Bohnlaw Page Thumbnail

There is no safe hour for speeding

In November 2013, news of a fatal car crash hit the headlines: On the northbound side of Highway 880 in Oakland, a speeding BMW rear-ended a big rig at about 12:50 a.m. on a Monday morning. The BMW then jumped the median and collided head-on with a Honda CRV on the southbound side. The BMW was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour and must have rolled over several times in order to reach its landing position. Both vehicles disintegrated. Both drivers were killed.

The BMW driver was later identified as 30-year-old former Oakland Raiders linebacker Thomas Howard. The CRV driver was 64-year-old Zeng Long Liu of Hayward.

Accidents can happen at any time. California Highway Patrol statistics show that more than 20 percent of fatal collisions occur between midnight and 6:00 a.m. Speeding was certainly a contributing factor in this particular scenario. Investigators have not disclosed whether alcohol or drugs were involved.

Even the best defensive driver would likely not have been able to avoid a collision with a fiery, out-of-control BMW jumping the median at over 100 miles per hour.

A wrongful death claim can provide compensation for a life ending too soon

The family of Zeng Long Liu can seek damages for her untimely death through a wrongful death claim. Investigators, accident reconstructionists, and safety engineers can be helpful in determining the facts of how the accident occurred. An autopsy of Mr. Howard could reveal drug or alcohol use. While no amount of compensation can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, the at-fault driver should be held accountable for unlawful actions, such as reckless driving and/or driving under the influence that caused the premature death of an innocent person.

In California, families can bring a wrongful death suit within two years of the date of the accident. Compensation can be sought for funeral expenses, medical expenses, loss of financial support, and loss of love, attention, emotional support and guidance.

Common misconceptions impede wrongful death claims

Two misconceptions often prevent surviving families from bringing a wrongful death claim:

Insufficient evidence. Many people believe that there may not be sufficient evidence for a wrongful death claim. This is a matter best discussed with a qualified wrongful death attorney who experience and access to experts that can help. Your attorney can advise you on how best to proceed.

Insufficient funds to hire a lawyer. Most law firms handle wrongful death claims on a contingency basis, meaning, if you do not obtain a recovery, you pay no attorney fees. If someone you love died as the result of someone else’s negligence, speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer and learn your options.