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Wrongful death award of $2 million upheld by appeals court

The loss of a loved one as the result of an accident is a tragedy. When this loss involves a drunk driver, it may seem even more devastating. The drunk driver could face a multitude of penalties and perhaps even spend time in a California prison. However, these penalties do nothing to alleviate the loss that the family is experiencing. Some families find that filing a wrongful death claim for monetary damages in civil court is appropriate.

In 2002, one such loved one was killed when an individual who had been drinking decided to drive his brother's uninsured dump truck. The family filed suit in 2003 and attempted to notify the owner of the dump truck about the lawsuit. They finally resorted to publishing the notice four times in the local newspaper; however, the owner failed to appear in court. As a result, a default judgment was granted.

In 2015, the owner of the dump truck attempted to buy a home. He claims that this was the first time that he was made aware of the legal proceedings against him. In fact, he states that his brother never mentioned the lawsuit. Based upon these claims, the vehicle owner appealed the wrongful death judgment. However, the California appeals court has recently upheld the $2 million judgment.

When one dies as the result of another individual's negligence, legal grounds for a claim of wrongful death typically exist. In this particular case, the negligence of the driver was imputed to the owner pursuant to California law. An experienced attorney can help guide one through the legal process.

Source:, "Defendant ordered to pay more than $2 million in wrongful death suit", Angela Underwood, April 27, 2017

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