The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that car accidents were the second highest cause of accidental deaths and unfortunately, Montebello and other cities in California regularly see their share of fatal car accidents. Many California residents are reminded of this as the murder trial started last week against Lemuel Wilson, the man who caused the automobile accident resulting in the death of two California brothers, ages 5 and 10. Fatal car accident cases sometimes result in murder or other criminal charges against the at-fault driver, but as Montebello wrongful death attorneys know, criminal convictions may be welcomed by the deceased’s close family members, but those convictions do not provide the compensation that surviving family members deserve.
2017 fatal car accident
On July 1, 2017, Lemuel Wilson, driving an SUV, suddenly veered off of Highway 4 off-ramp and struck the side of a Dodge Durango killing two of the occupants, Vincent Rothenberg and Lorenzo Reyes. Two other occupants sustained serious injuries in the accident as well. Wilson did not stop his vehicle after striking the Durango and kept driving until he was stopped after running into a nearby fire hydrant. He then got out of his car and ran to a hospital where police eventually apprehended him, 7 hours after the accident.
In order to secure a murder conviction, the prosecutor is attempting to prove that Wilson was drunk at the time that he caused the accident and that he knew a fatality was probable. What makes this case especially difficult is that since he was not caught until 7 hours after the accident, there is little evidence to prove that he was drunk. Prosecutors do have a photo of him holding a bottle of what is alleged to be wine while he is behind the wheel of his car on the night of the accident.
Wrongful death claims
Whether or not Wilson is convicted of murder does not matter when it comes to a wrongful death claim. It may be satisfying for surviving family members to see him convicted of murder, but as mentioned above, a murder conviction does not provide financial compensation to those surviving family members, but a successful wrongful death claim does. Proving wrongful death claims are easier than proving murder because the burden of proof is much lower in civil wrongful death claims.
In California, wrongful death claims may be brought to compensate surviving family members for losses they sustained due to losing their loved ones. These losses may include, but are not limited to:
- Loss of the decedent’s financial support
- Loss of the decedent’s household services, benefits, and gifts
- Loss of the decedent’s guidance, love, care, affection, and moral support
When a life is taken due to someone else’s wrongful conduct, surviving close family members deserve to be compensated. Contact a Montebello wrongful death attorney at The Hayes Law Firm, APC to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys are ready to listen and discuss all financial recovery options.