SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE reported that Kelley Fritz, 12, of Hemet, was fatally injured at around 9:30 p.m. in a head-on auto accident on September 25, 2010. Kelley, who was returning from visiting family in San Diego, was riding in a 1956 Volkswagen Beetle on state Route 76 near East Vista Way, when her father Rudy Fritz,45, veered into oncoming traffic hitting a Buick. Both Kelley and Mr. Fritz who were not wearing any seatbelts, were ejected from their vehicle. Kelley was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Fritz was airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and both occupants of the Buick were taken to Palomar Medical Center for treatment. Mr. Fritz was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs according to Teri Figueroa a reporter from NORTH COUNTY TIMES.
Our condolences goes out to the Kelley’s family, and friends.
Applicable California Law
California Vehicle Code 21651 prohibits drivers from crossing into oncoming traffic unless they are making turns, or as otherwise provided by the code, and only when it is safe to do so. Mr. Fritz would be liable for any property that was damaged and personal injury to the driver and passenger of the Buick as well as the wrongful death of his daughter (see my prior Blog post Escondido Auto Accident Fatally Injures Man In Wheelchair for California law on wrongful death). In addition, he could be liable for punitive damages for gross negligence (see my prior Blog post Justice For Family Of Nursing Home Abuse Victim for California law on punitive damages). Since the Bug was not equipped with seatbelts due to it’s age, Kelley did not contribute to causing her own death, which would not affect any claims arising out of her death. There are potential issue relating to whether or not Kelley’s wrongful death would be covered by her father’s insurance. It is not clear from the facts whether Kelley lived with her mother and also resided with her father. Most auto insurance policies have exclusions, which do not cover claims by family members living in the same household when making claims against each other.
A weekend visit with family causes the tragic death of a young girl and injury to others. Auto accidents, in which carless and or reckless driving is involved, often results in serious injuries or wrongful death. Issues relating to insurance coverage, causation, and damages require thorough analyses by experts and advice from an experienced personal injury attorney.