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California wrongful death case results in $8.8 million settlement

A sheriff's deputy crash in Kern County has resulted in an extended legal case. That case involved wrongful death claims that stemmed directly from the crash. On Friday, Feb. 28, Kern County reached a total of $8.8 million in settlements to resolve those claims.

The crash that began the case occurred in Oildale in 2011. At that time, the deputy's patrol car struck two people, both of whom died as a result. The two victims, a man, 24, and a woman, 30, were pushing a motorcycle across Norris Road at the time.

The deputy had been en route to the scene of a stolen vehicle at the time, tasked with investigating a suspect in that matter. According to investigators, he was driving on Norris Road at 84.9 mph. The road has a posted speed limit of 45 mph. The California Highway Patrol determined that the deputy had been traveling at 64.4 mph at the time his vehicle impacted the pedestrians.

Additionally, CHP says he did not have his siren or emergency lights activated at the time of the crash or immediately prior to it. This is relevant because officers are allowed to faster than posted speed limits if they are in "Code 3" status. However, in such cases, they must have their sirens and emergency lights on, and the deputy did not.

Wrongful death claims were filed against the county by the families of both victims in this case. The awards, of $4.8 million and $4 million respectively, may have been at near record levels for car crash claims filed against the sheriff's department and county. People in unrelated wrongful death cases in California may have other grounds for pursuing their claims, and may be able to pursue different settlements. A experienced attorney can help them by providing advice and guidance.

Source:, "Settlements totaling $8.8 million in deputy wrongful death case" No author given, Feb. 28, 2014

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