Money may be the last thing on a person's mind after they have lost a loved one in an accident. After all, money cannot replace a loved one or undo the accident. However, holding a negligent party accountable for the loss can help family members find some closure and be given the resources and means to move on from such a tragic event. In some cases of wrongful death, such as those involving a parent, the financial loss suffered by surviving children can be extraordinary.
It took just a few days for a jury to determine that a 13-year-old California girl should be awarded $150 million after her parents were killed in an accident in 2009. The details of the accident were presented in court and supported the girl's case by indicating that the negligence of a truck driver contributed to the fatal crash.
According to reports, the young girl was riding in a GMC Yukon with her parents and older brother. Ahead of them on the freeway, a trucker had stopped on the shoulder in an area that is only supposed to be used in emergencies. He had no lights flashing, no siren. There was nothing to indicate that he was pulled over for an emergency. The reason for his stop remains unclear, as the trucker changed his story numerous times. At first, he stated that he pulled over to sleep, but then said that the stop was an emergency because he had to pull over to take medicine for a headache.
The Yukon crashed into the truck, and the girl's parents were trapped inside. She and her brother were able to climb out to safety, but her parents did not survive the accident. A jury determined that the trucker and the trucking company were responsible for the young girl's immeasurable loss and ordered them to pay $150 million in damages resulting from the accident.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Jury awards $150 million to girl whose family died in crash," James Barragan, Oct. 29, 2013