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San Jose Wrongful Death in Fiery Crash: Drunk Driver to Blame

  • Published: December 22, 2010

In one heart-wrenching, irreversible moment, two promising young lives were destroyed. Eighteen-year-old Roshan Rahbari was dead. And Mitchell Braden Pennings, also 18, would soon be charged with felony DUI, felony hit-and-run, and vehicular manslaughter.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the two young men were traveling on Almaden Expressway in San Jose in the early morning hours of September 21 when Penning’s 2001 Ford Explorer crashed into a light pole and caught fire. Police initially received reports of an explosion at the intersection of Almaden and O’Grady. When they arrived on scene, they found the Explorer engulfed in flames. Roshan was trapped in the vehicle and died on scene. Mitchell, who tried to flee, was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Our hearts go out to the families of both young men for the lifetime of pain they will endure. Roshan’s parents have lost their only child forever. Meanwhile, Mitchell’s parents will lose their son to the criminal justice system. Roshan’s parents will also have the added burdens that often befall survivors when a loved one is killed due to the negligence or misconduct of others. However, they may obtain compensation through a wrongful death claim. Roshan’s parents may be entitled to funeral and burial costs; economic damages for the financial contribution their son might have made to the family had he survived; and damages for the loss of love, society, companionship, comfort, and affection from their son.

Regrettably, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to whittle away at the money survivors are entitled to, using any excuse available. But attorneys who focus on wrongful death cases can make the process of dealing with the insurance company less traumatic for survivors. Insurance companies are far less likely to play games with a lawyer than with individuals who are unfamiliar with the legal system. And when it’s necessary to fight, we take on that duty so that the grieving family doesn’t have to.