Philip Ruiz, Jr., 20, was killed in a Santa Monica car accident after the vehicle in which he was a passenger was struck by a wrong-way driver, who officials suspect, was under the influence. According to a news report in City News Service, the fatal DUI collision occurred on the 10 Freeway at Centinela Avenue early morning on June 28, 2013. California Highway Patrol officials say say 23-year-old Jaime Herrera was driving a 2005 Pontiac GTO east in the westbound lanes of the freeway and struck a 1997 Ford Taurus head-on. Ruiz, who was a passenger in the Taurus driven by 18-year-old Edgar Quiroz, died at the scene.
As Quiroz and other passengers in the Taurus tried to free Ruiz, a third vehicle, a 2012 Hyundai Sonata, driven by Kenneth Weimer, rear-ended the Taurus. Ruiz was ejected from the vehicle and suffered fatal injuries. Quiroz suffered a fractured left arm. Herrera and Weimer were both arrested on suspicion of DUI.
According to CHP’s 2010 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), one person died and 53 were injured as a result of DUI collisions in Santa Monica. In Los Angeles County as a whole, 197 fatalities and 4,359 injuries were reported as a result of impaired drivers.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that there were two drivers who were under the influence who caused this tragic incident. 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).
In such cases, in addition to facing criminal charges, impaired drivers can also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses they cause. Injured victims can seek compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation and pain and suffering. Families of deceased victims can file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for damages as well. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer will be able to better advise victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.