The LA City Council has approved a $6.6 million Los Angeles wrongful death settlement for Jovanna Lugo. The 27-year-old wife and mother was killed by a speeding police car in 2010.
Lugo sustained fatal injuries when her vehicle was struck by an LAPD cruiser as she was leaving a driveway. The speed limit on the street where the Sylmar motor vehicle accident occurred was 35 mph but the police officer who was driving the car was going at about twice that rate (even though there was no legal reason to break the speed limit). Also, at the time, the police car did not have its siren or emergency lights activated to indicate that the vehicle was speeding. One witness has even said that the headlights of the LAPD car were also not on.
The officers involved had tried to argue that Lugo was to blame for the collision because she was making an illegal U-turn when the Los Angeles auto accident happened. However, according to the Los Angeles Times, lawyers for the city say in a report that there is no evidence to back up this contention. Also, a city-retained expert had found that considering the speed that the police car was moving and the lighting conditions at the time, Lugo could not have "appreciate" the danger.The city's attorneys warned that going to court for Los Angeles wrongful death could result in a much larger verdict for Lugo's family if a settlement wasn't reached first. It might also highlight the poor job that the authorities did in conducting an investigation into the fatal collision, wish could end up tarnishing the LAPD's reputation. Witnesses who were interviewed were reportedly not recorded and the person that said the headlights of the police car were off was not interviewed.
"Police officers are not exempt from the rules of the road," said Los Angeles car accident Attorney Vincent Howard. "Unless they are in an emergency situation or some other special circumstance that allows them to disregard the laws, they must stop at red lights and stop signs and obey the speed limit."
In the last 10 years, the city of Los Angeles has had to pay approximately $30 million over some 400 LAPD traffic-related lawsuits. There are dozens more cases awaiting resolution.
"Many people are too scared to go after police for damages," said LA injury attorney Vincent Howard. "By not exploring your legal options, you may be depriving yourself of your right to obtain financial recovery for the harm that you have suffered."
$6.6 million to be paid to family of woman killed by LAPD cruiser, Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2012
LA agrees to $6.6 million payout in police car crash that killed woman, KPCC, June 29, 2012
LAPD investigates fatal Sylmar police crash, ABC Local, April 22, 2010
More Blog Posts:
Santa Ana Pedestrian Accident Caused by Allegedly Drunken Driver Kills 5-Year-Old Pedestrian, Injures Her Mom and Sister, California Injury Lawyers, June 26, 2012
Orange County, California Wrongful Death Claim Seeks Damages from Cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach Over Fallen Tree that Struck Woman's Car, California Injury Lawyers, March 16, 2012
Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Car Accident Involving Fallen Tree Leads to Orange County, California Wrongful Death Lawsuits From the Victim's Parents, California Injury Lawyers, June 22, 2012
Unfortunately, it is easy for police officers to forget that they are not above the law. Remember, they are here to serve the community and they can be held responsible for causing serious injury or harm during the course of doing their job.