A woman, identified as 34-year-old Karina Preza, was ejected from her car and suffered life-threatening injuries after a crash with a police cruiser in Hawthorne. KABC News reports that the incident occurred early morning on July 24, 2013 at the intersection of El Segundo Boulevard and Fonthill Avenue. California Highway Patrol officials say the Honda Accord driven by Preza, pulled out from an alley in front of the Hawthorne police car prior to the crash. Officials say the patrol car was traveling eastbound on El Segundo Boulevard and was responding to a call. But it is not known if the cruiser had its lights and sirens on.
Officials say they do not know how fast the vehicles were going, but the impact was so severe that it nearly split the Honda in two. Preza was rushed to an area hospital and underwent surgery. Officials also say she was not buckled up. Family members say Preza is married with three young children. The Hawthorne police officer survived with relatively minor injuries.
Based on this news report, investigators are zeroing in on the speed of the vehicles and whether the police car had its lights and sirens on. Residents have said that all they heard was the sound of the police cars V8 engine revving, that they did not hear any sirens. California law requires motorists to yield the right-of-way to patrol vehicles or emergency vehicles with lights and sirens on. If the vehicle does not have lights and sirens on, the driver is expected to abide by the same traffic laws as everyone else.
Fault and Liability
In this case, if the police officer driving the patrol vehicle is determined to have been at fault, he and his employer can be held liable for the victim’s serious injuries. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Victims or their families would also be well advised to contact an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. Please remember that any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.