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California woman will serve at least 15 years for fatal accident

After a nine-day trial that concluded on August 22, a 28-year-old California woman was sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison for her role in a fatal crash that occurred on June 17, 2011. She was convicted of vehicular manslaughter with intoxication, felony evading and second-degree murder.

The deadly incident began when the woman was spotted by police driving recklessly on Pulgas Avenue in East Palo Alto around 10:30 p.m. When police tried to stop her car, the woman fled. The resulting car chase ended when she crashed the car at the roadway's intersection with East Bayshore Road. The driver was ejected from the vehicle along with the 22-year-old woman who was her passenger. The 22-year-old woman was killed at the scene. The driver was taken to Stanford University Hospital where she was treated and later taken into custody. She reportedly ran a minimum of six stop signs and reached speeds of up to 80 mph during the pursuit.

A driver can be sued for a passenger's death in a car crash by immediate family members of that victim. In cases similar to this one in which a driver is charged criminally in connection with a fatal car accident, those charges can often be used as evidence of that person's negligence per se in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Such lawsuits are considered matters for civil court and are separate from any criminal charges against their defendants. The plaintiffs of successful wrongful death lawsuits can collect damages regardless of the outcomes of any related criminal proceedings involving defendants. Compensation awarded to plaintiffs can be tied to funeral and burial expenses as well as the loss of decedents' financial support.

Source: CBS, "East Palo Alto Woman Gets 15 Years To Life For Fatal 2011 DUI Crash", August 23, 2014

Source: CBS, "East Palo Alto Woman Gets 15 Years To Life For Fatal 2011 DUI Crash", August 23, 2014

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