Maria A. Mendoza, 77, was killed in a Riverside County rollover car crash after the vehicle in which she was traveling crashed into another car. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, the crash occurred the night of May 19, 2013 along the Interstate 10 east of Wall Street in north Palm Springs. California Highway Patrol officials say Mendoza was a passenger in a 1998 BMW that rolled several times into the desert after being struck by a 2009 Mitsubishi Gallant.
The 62-year-old male driver of the BMW and two other passengers were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The 25-year-old female driver of the Mitsubishi was uninjured. Officials suspect that Mendoza was not wearing her seatbelt. An investigation is ongoing.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about 40,000 people in the United States are killed each year and about 25 percent of them are involved in rollover crashes. NHTSA also estimates that as many as 13,000 lives can be saved annually by the use of seatbelts. The chances of being killed in a motor vehicle accident are increased by 25 times if a vehicle occupant is ejected. The U.S. Department of Transportation predicts a 50 percent reduction in the number of traffic accident deaths and injuries if everyone buckles up.
Based on this news report, the circumstances of this collision are still unclear. There are still a number of unanswered questions. Who caused the crash? Who was at fault? Were alcohol or drugs involved? Did high speed, distraction or inattention cause the crash? Was Mendoza unbelted or was she ejected from the vehicle as the result of seatbelt failure? These are some of the important aspects that must be examined in order to determine precisely what occurred here and why.
In such cases, the at-fault driver can be held liable for the injuries, damages and losses. Injured victims as well as families of deceased crash victims can seek compensation for their losses. In addition, if it is determined that Mendoza was ejected due to a defective seatbelt, the automaker and/or the manufacturer of the defective seatbelt can be held liable for the victim’s wrongful death. An experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled auto product liability claims, specifically seatbelt defect cases, will be able to help injured victims and their families pursue their legal rights.