A Head-On Crash in Rio Vista Kills 4, Injures 6, and Raises Multiple Questions

A Head-On Crash in Rio Vista Kills 4, Injures 6, and Raises Multiple Questions
A Head-On Crash in Rio Vista Kills 4, Injures 6, and Raises Multiple Questions

Sometimes, one person is clearly and unequivocally at fault for your auto accident injuries. But crash injury cases aren't always so clear-cut; sometimes they involve muddied questions of liability and multiple potentially liable parties. In either instance, but especially in the latter, you need the services of an experienced San Mateo drunk driving injury lawyer to help you ensure you get the most from your injury lawsuit.

A terrible tragedy to our northeast may potentially be an example of the latter scenario. Along a stretch of Highway 12 in Rio Vista that, according to the Stockton Record, is "notorious for collisions," four people died and six more were hurt in a head-on crash.

According to the local police chief, the driver of a westbound Honda sedan went off the road, then overcorrected, ending up in the eastbound lane. There, he slammed head-on into a Chevrolet Suburban carrying a family who was vacationing in Northern California, the report indicated. The collision killed the driver of the Honda, his two passengers, and a woman in the Chevrolet. The remaining six people in the Chevrolet all suffered injuries requiring hospitalization.

Obviously, the driver who overcorrected and entered the wrong-way lane is a potentially liable party. (In this circumstance, that would be the estate of the Honda driver.) However, this tragedy is illustrative of how a deeper investigation might reveal more.

When a Highway's Dangerous Design is a Potential Source of Liability

News sources, like the Record and the San Francisco Chronicle, noted that the stretch of Highway 12 where the accident occurred had a "notorious" history of crashes and injuries. The Rio Vista police chief indicated to news sources that the area was one where the highway "can start off wide open but then become heavily congested as motorists approach Rio Vista." He also said that "the state plans to improve safety along the stretch of highway."

Here in California, the law recognizes something called "design immunity." That immunity means that, in a lot of situations, the state won't be liable for a highway's dangerous design. That immunity, however, isn't all-encompassing; there are circumstances where an injured person can sue and recover based on a highway's dangerous design.

Proving that the highway's approved plans did not match what was ultimately built can be one crucial element. Also, evidence that the state failed to fix the dangerous condition despite having knowledge (or constructive knowledge) of the danger (and having time and resources to address the problem) can go a long way, as well.

Third-Party Liability in Drunk Driving Accidents

Additionally, there's the fact that, according to police, they found "numerous" alcoholic beverage containers inside the Honda. In most California cases, the provider of alcoholic beverages (either a private provider "social host" or a commercial provider "dram shop") isn't liable for the driving-related harm caused by the person they served. That legal rule changes dramatically, though, if the person they served was underage.

When that's the situation, a social host or a commercial provider can potentially be liable for the injuries and deaths caused by the drunk driver, including harm to the drunk driver him/herself.

According to KCRA, the deceased driver of the Honda was a 20-year-old man from Vacaville, meaning that those who provided him with alcohol provided alcohol to an underage individual. That means those having liability for the crash are possibly more numerous than if the man was 21 years of age.

Getting everything you deserve in an auto accident case can involve much more than you might initially imagine, especially when it comes to amassing the evidence you need to hold accountable all of those responsible. It can include forensic crash scene proof, road plans, toxicology results, police accident reports, photos, videos, and much more.

Contact diligent San Mateo personal injury attorneys at Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP offer clients the detail-oriented representation their cases deserve, from pre-trial discovery to the final judgment or settlement. Contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.


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