There is no real measure for the loss of a human life. We attempt to come up with equivalents through insurance proceeds, criminal penalties and civil damage awards. To families who've lost loved ones in Los Angeles traffic accidents, the numbers really never match the love and support that was suddenly, senselessly taken away.
Justice can seem hollow, even following a negligent driver's criminal conviction or an order for damages. However, California courts do their best to make things right or at least easier for accident victims and survivors.
A 22-year-old driver admitted she was speeding before causing a fatal motorcycle accident last year. An officer from the California Highway Patrol spoke with the driver and later testified about the October crash. The SUV driver allegedly stated she had been going 77 mph around a curve in Campo where traffic was supposed to slow down to 40 mph.
The defendant, charged with gross vehicular manslaughter, told the officer the Dodge Durango involved in the fatality belonged to a roommate. The driver lost control during a left turn. The SUV veered into oncoming traffic, struck and killed a motorcyclist, a 37-year-old firefighter who had just completed a work shift.
The motorcyclist died at the scene. The SUV driver was unhurt. The defendant pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge in July and faced a possible six-year prison term.
A judge did not order prison time at sentencing. Instead, the woman was ordered to three years of probation plus community service. As a reminder of her crime, the judge also directed the defendant to spend an entire day in jail on the Oct. 3 anniversary of the deadly crash.
Victims' families dissatisfied with the outcome of a criminal trial may find more solace through personal claims in a civil court. Liability lawsuits allow people who've suffered great losses to face the people who've harmed them directly.
Source: Fox 5 San Diego, "Woman gets probation in crash that killed firefighter" Aug. 29, 201