On the evening of Feb. 15, the driver of a Nissan Sentra crashed head-on with a Chevrolet Malibu in North Highlands, California. The Sentra was traveling eastbound on Auburn Boulevard while the Malibu was traveling westbound on the same street. The accident occurred as the Sentra was trying to make a turn onto Hemlock Street.
California Highway Patrol’s North Sacramento office stated that there were seven occupants in the Malibu, six of whom were juveniles. All seven occupants were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. It turns out that none of the juveniles were wearing their seat belts. However, CHP said that all are expected to survive.
The driver of the Sentra, 26 years old, was arrested at the scene on the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. Before police arrived on the scene, people in surrounding cars had come out to rescue the minors out of the wreckage.
When the victims of motor vehicle accidents suffer injury through little or no fault of their own, then they may pursue a personal injury claim against the guilty driver’s auto insurance company. Of course, if plaintiffs were partially negligent, then whatever damages they recover will be proportionally lowered based on that degree of fault.
Failure to wear a seat belt is one such negligent act that may lower the amount in damages, but when children are involved, the blame may lie more with the parents. Details for the incident described above are few, and the relation between the juveniles and the driver is unclear. Nevertheless, if the other driver’s actions are grossly negligent, one may still file a claim and seek not only compensatory damages but also punitive damages. It may be a good idea to see a lawyer before filing anything.