Merle Moen, 68, was killed in a car crash in San Clemente after the vehicle he was driving was rear-ended by a pickup truck at a street intersection. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the fatal collision occurred at the intersection of El Camino Real and Camino San Clemente the afternoon of January 15, 2013. Police say the 17-year-old driver of a Toyota pickup had broadsided a Toyota Solara that Moen was driving. Moen suffered fatal injuries while his wife, who was a passenger in the Solara, was transported to an area hospital with injuries. The young driver of the pickup was not cited or arrested, pending an official investigation. Officials are still trying to determine who had the right-of-way at the time.
The Danger of Broadside Collisions
A number of deadly street intersection collisions we see in our communities involve side-impact collisions where one vehicle strikes another on the side. This fatal accident is yet another example how devastating a side-impact crash can be. Consider these statistics by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the year 2005, for example, most deadly side-impact collisions - about 62.5 percent -- were broadside collisions.
The reason side impact crashes are so severe is that the sides of vehicles usually offer far less protection from the impact of a collision than the front or back of a vehicle. There is very little barrier or cushion between oncoming traffic and the person occupying the vehicle. If the striking vehicle hits the other squarely in its side doors, occupants of the vehicle that is struck risk severe injuries, often fatal as it happened in this crash, because the side of the vehicle completely crumples and deforms pushing broken glass and sharp metal toward them. There is a high risk of death, head and neck injuries, internal injuries and broken bones as a result of these types of crashes.
Who is Liable?
In such cases where a collision results in death, the family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship. In some cases, a dangerous roadway or intersection may also contribute to a deadly crash. In such cases, the city or governmental agencies responsible for maintaining the roadway can be held liable as well. Please remember that any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within six months of the incident, under California Government Code Section 911.2.