San Diego News 6 Mike Wille reported that 21-year-old Ashley Maya was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence and causing a fatal auto accident on February 12, 2012. According to the CHP, Maya was drunk and driving at a high rate of speed. As she attempted to merge from Highway 163 to Interstate 8, she overturned her vehicle, ejecting two of the three passengers, one of whom died at the scene. The two other passengers were injured and transported to a local hospital. Police arrested her on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.
Our sympathy goes out to the family and friends of the deceased.
Applicable California Law
Maya will face felony criminal charges for violation of Vehicle Code 23152, which makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of drugs and or alcohol as well as Penal code 192, which makes it a felony when death or injury results from driving while intoxicated. Furthermore, Maya will be liable to the heirs of the passenger who was killed for wrongful death claims as provided by Code of Civil Procedure sections 377.60-377.62 as well as California Code of Civil Procedure sections 377.30-377.35 for a “survivor action” for any damages not covered by the wrongful death statute. In addition, she will face claims for the personal injuries sustained by the other two passengers for their medical expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity, and for compensation for pain and suffering. If her conduct is deemed to constitute gross negligence, she could face punitive damages as provided by California Civil Code Section 3294. It is not clear from the facts as to how or why the passengers were ejected from the vehicle. However, if it was due to any defect in the vehicle, the heirs of the deceased and the injured could pursue products liability claims (see my prior Blog post for California Products Liability Law). However, if the passengers knew that Maya was intoxicated and chose to ride with her, their conduct would diminish the value of any potential claims as they would be deemed to have contributed to their own injuries.
Driving while intoxicated or choosing to ride in a vehicle being driven by a drunk driver often result in serious consequences. Auto accidents involving reckless driving can cause catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. If you or a loved one are the victim of a drunk driver, seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney.