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What Happened

On August 1, 2020, Oregon State Police responded to a two-vehicle crash on highway 97 and O’Neil. Honda Odyssey, with driver by Robert Gregg (53) from Madras, was hit by a commercial motor vehicle driven by Alfonso Lopez (56) of Colton, CA. Sadly, Robert Gregg and passenger, Antonia Romero (46) of Madras died at the scene.

Passenger Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In this case, it appears that driver didn’t do anything wrong and his family members can bring a wrongful death claim. In most car accidents, the drivers receive the bulk of attention. But sometimes passengers are severely injured or die in car accidents, just like here. If you lost a loved one who was a passenger in a car accident, you probably have many questions about how to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

One of the first things to understand is that your loved one would have the same rights to sue as the driver if he or she had lived. In a car accident where the passenger dies, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver or drivers liable for the accident.

Passenger Or Family Can Sue Both Drivers If They Share Liability

The next thing to understand is that the passenger is almost never liable for the accident. For example, if your loved one was talking on a cell phone in the car and the driver was distracted and got in a fatal accident, that is the driver’s fault. You should be able to receive full compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit against that driver, and the other driver if liability was shared.

Being able to sue both drivers if they shared liability can be crucial. Most auto insurance companies have compensation limits so you may not be able to get all the compensation you deserve. You also can sue both drivers if the full case value cannot be paid by the insurance coverage.

One of the few exceptions where you might not get full compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit is where your loved one got into a car knowing the driver had been drinking. If a DUI contributed to the crash, it is possible that comparative fault laws could reduce your compensation. However, your Oregon wrongful death attorney would do everything in his power to argue that you deserve as much compensation as possible.

Case Example – $2.58 Million Wrongful Death Settlement

Some passenger wrongful death lawsuits can lead to large settlements, particularly when a government entity is partially liable for the accident.

In a New York case, a 31-year-old passenger died in a tragic car accident. He was the passenger in a car that hit another vehicle at a busy Brooklyn intersection. The passenger suffered a TBI and died a year later. Both drivers also died in the accident.

The passenger’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estates of the two drivers and the City of New York. She alleged that the city did not keep the streets in a safe condition.

The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that the traffic signal at the fatal intersection was mounted on a lower pole on the street corner, rather than overhead. She alleged that the traffic signal was not in the driver’s normal field of vision. She argued that the city did not fix the known hazardous roadway condition once it knew about it.

Plaintiff’s counsel argued that the city called for overhead traffic signals to be installed at the intersection more than 40 years earlier. The city concluded the same in 1974 and 1984. But the fix was never done because budgetary and engineering problems restricted it from installing overhead traffic signals.

The attorney also showed evidence that more than 60 accidents had happened at the intersection and many involved drivers not seeing the traffic light at the intersection.

The case resulted in a pretrial settlement of $2.58 million, with the city contributing $2.5 million and the deceased drivers’ insurance policies paying $25,000 and $33,333.33, respectively.

Talk to a Portland Wrongful Death Attorney Today

If you lost a loved one as a passenger in a car accident, you could be entitled to ample compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering, your mental anguish, loss of earnings, medical bills, and funeral expenses.

Please talk to The Herron Law Firm today for a complimentary consultation.

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