Justina Lerrea, 89, was killed in a Los Angeles car accident that involved multiple vehicles and a driver, who officials say, was under the influence.
According to a CBS Los Angeles news report, the fatal crash occurred early morning on November 15, 2014 near Wilbur Avenue and Victory Boulevard.
Police say Lorenzo Gonzalez, 24, was driving a Volkswagen Jetta west on Victory when his car
rear-ended a Nissan Altima driven by 55-year-old Moises Montano.
Lerrea, a passenger in the Altima, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Nissan collided with a Toyota Avalon that was stopped facing east on Victory. The Avalon’s driver was waiting to make a left turn on to northbound Wilbur.
The Toyota was pushed backward into a Kia Rio. Two others suffered what were described as moderate injuries. Gonzalez was arrested on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Justina Lerrea for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. We also wish the injured victims the very best for a quick and full recovery.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2012 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 79 fatalities and 2,015 injuries reported as a result of DUI collisions in the city of Los Angeles.
Countywide, 213 people died and 4,261 were injured due to alcohol-related crashes during the same year.
California DUI Laws
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver, Gonzalez, was under the influence when he rear-ended the vehicle carrying the victim, Lerrea.
Under California law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a): “It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.”
A driver whose act of driving under the influence results in the death of another will likely face vehicular manslaughter charges under California Penal Code section 191.5 (a), as Gonzalez does in this case.
Compensation for Victims and Families
In such cases, in addition to facing criminal penalties, DUI drivers can also be held civilly liable for injuries and damages caused. For example, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death lawsuit, which is a civil action, seeking monetary compensation from the at-fault driver for damages such as medical and funeral costs, lost future income and loss of love and companionship. Injured victims can file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation and pain and suffering.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney in Los Angeles who has financially pursued DUI drivers on behalf of injured victims and their families can be a valuable resource in such cases.