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California teen, parents sued over double fatal bike accident

Los Angeles teens can make a lot of mistakes as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. What most parents realize and many teens don't is that some errors cannot be corrected. An accident caused by a reckless teen driver might cause costly, but replaceable, property damage but, when the teen's indifference toward safety kills someone, there's no do-over.

Two years ago, a 41-year-old Concord dad went bike riding with his two daughters, ages 9 and 12. At the same time, a 17-year-old male driver was headed down the road toward the three family members, pedaling along a sidewalk. The uninsured teen was driving a Cadillac at over 70 mph in a 45-mph zone.

Police said the driver was zipping in and out of traffic. He lost control of the big car while changing lanes and veered off the road. The Cadillac hit a fire hydrant and the bicyclists on the sidewalk before slamming into a building.

The oldest daughter suffered slight injuries, but her youngest sister and father were killed in the bicycle accident. The same year, while the driver was a minor, he was convicted of double counts of vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to a seven-year term of confinement. Because he had not reached the age of majority, the teen's sentence was pared down to three years.

The bicyclists' surviving family members, the man's widow and his oldest daughter, recently filed a lawsuit against the teen driver and his parents. The wrongful death and negligence lawsuit blames the driver's parents for doing nothing to curb their son's well-known habit of driving recklessly. The teen defendant is now a legal adult of 19.

California civil courts award damages to victims who've been harmed, some catastrophically, by injury or death. No court can replace a lost family member's companionship, support and love. Juries can offer justice in the form of compensation.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Concord family files lawsuit in crash that killed father, daughter" Katie Nelson, Contra Costa Times, Apr. 05, 201 

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