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Driver Convicted of Second-Degree Murder in Fatal Car Crash: Compensation May Be Available Through Wrongful Death or Personal Injury Lawsuit

  • Published: December 29, 2010

It was a tragedy that shook people nationwide, even people who weren’t baseball fans: Hours after pitching six scoreless innings in his season debut, Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light and T-boned the car Adenhart was riding in. Two of Adenhart’s friends, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart, also died in the April 9, 2009, Fullerton collision. A fourth person in the car, Jon Wilhite, was severely injured.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, on September 28, 2010, 23-year-old Andrew Gallo was convicted on three counts of second-degree murder. Although the conviction brings some measure of comfort to the families and friends of the victims, it won’t bring back the three young people who died or undo the injuries Wilhite sustained. But it is one step in the healing process.

Our office doesn’t handle criminal cases, but crashes like these also give rise to civil claims. Through a personal injury claim, an injured survivor may be entitled to compensation for current and projected medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Meanwhile, the families of those who died may obtain compensation through a wrongful death claim. They may be entitled to funeral and burial costs; economic damages for the financial contributions the decedent might have made to the family if he or she had lived; and damages for loss of love, society, companionship, comfort, and affection. Also, in cases like this one that involve criminal convictions, it may be possible to obtain punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer.