Yvette Latrice Freeman, 49, was killed in a car accident in Hawthorne after the Access Services van in which she was traveling was rear-ended by a suspected drunk driver.
According to a news report in the Daily Breeze, the fatal accident occurred early morning on December 15, 2014.
Freeman was being driven home by Access Services, a Los Angeles County transportation system for people unable to drive or take public transportation due to a physical disability.
The van was struck
from behind by an SUV in the 3000 block of El Segundo Boulevard in Hawthorne.
Possible Involvement of Speed and Alcohol
A driver and two male passengers were not injured. But Freeman, who was in the back seat, was crushed by the impact. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The 21-year-old woman driving the SUV suffered minor injuries. Officers did not arrest her but said they are conducting a DUI investigation.
They said the circumstances of the crash indicated the possible involvement of drugs or alcohol. The van was slowing down for a traffic signal and the initial investigation showed that the SUV may have been speeding. The investigation is ongoing.
According to California Highway Patrol’s 2012 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were nine fatalities and 388 injuries reported as a result of car accidents in the city of Hawthorne. Of those, three fatalities and 46 injuries occurred as a result of DUI collisions.
In Los Angeles County as a whole, 213 people were killed and 4,261 were injured as a result of DUI crashes during the same year.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver in this case was not only speeding, but may have also been under the influence of alcohol and/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.”
Also, California Vehicle Code Section 22350 (Basic Speed Law) states: “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic and on surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.”
If the SUV’s driver is determined to have been at fault, in addition to criminal charges, she could be held civilly liable for the victim’s wrongful death.
In cases where negligence or wrongdoing is involved, families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages such as medical and funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering and loss of love and companionship.
An experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney will be able to advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.