San Diego News 10 reported that 18-year-old Miguel Rojas of Escondido was fatally injured in a hit-and-run accident on July 3, 2011. The auto accident occurred at around 2 a.m. when Miguel was leaving his aunt’s house Sunday morning. As he turned left onto Washington Avenue his Dodge Caravan was hit by a 1995 Lexus traveling east on Washington, and burst into flames causing his tragic death. The driver of the Lexus 20-year-old Juan Carrillo, also of Escondido, fled the scene but was later arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run and driving without a license according to Escondido police officer Scott Walters. An unnamed passenger in the Lexus was also injured and taken to a local hospital.
Our condolences go out to Miguel’s son, other family members and friends.
Applicable California law
Carrillo will face felony charges for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury or death (see my prior Blog post on California Hit-And-Run Law). It is not clear thus far if Carrillo is civilly liable for Rojas’ death, this will depend on whether his conduct contributed to causing the accident. However, the fact that the collision caused the van to burst into flames could result in product defect claims (see my prior Blog post on California Products Liability Law). If a defect in the van caused or contributed to Miguel’s death his heirs could pursue claims for wrongful death and or “survivor action” (see my prior Blog post on California Wrongful Death Damages). The fact that Miguel violated vehicle code 21804(a), which contributed to causing his death, any claims by his heirs will be reduced accordingly. The passenger in the Lexus could pursue claims for personal injury against Miguel’s estate, the registered owner of the van, and potentially the owner of the Lexus as well as Carrillo.
Young drivers are at greater risk of injury or wrongful death from driving because they often do not understand the consequences of their actions. Auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, and bicycle accidents involving youthful drivers are largely the result of inattention on their part. When serious injuries or wrongful death are caused by an accident, seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney.