A senior from Truckee High School died in a rollover crash when the truck he was riding in as a passenger flipped and landed partially on top of him. Andrew Metlenko, 18, of Reno, was riding with his friend Cory Adam Neill when Neill lost control of the vehicle on a dirt road.
California Highway Patrol sources stated that Neill was traveling too fast for conditions when he encountered rocks in the road after making a sharp curve. Unable to negotiate the sudden obstruction, Neill lost control of the truck and hit the embankment. The impact caused the vehicle to flip.
Metlenko was not wearing a seat belt and was partially ejected. The truck rolled over on his torso, killing him instantly. Neill, the driver of the truck, was not injured in the crash, according to California Highway Patrol sources. There is no word of charges pending against Neill for his part in the crash.
Issues of Comparative Liability
In a case such as this one, comparative liability may become a factor if the victim’s family seeks to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver.
Comparative liability law exists in most states for the purpose of mitigating liability when the victim is partially at fault for an accident or injuries. In most cases, comparative liability laws still allow the victim or his or her family to collect damages; however, that compensation is based on the percent of responsibility that the victim bears in the accident.
In California, juries are allowed to award damages that are reduced by the percentage they determine the victim was at fault for his or her own injuries. For example, if the jury determines that a victim is 30 percent responsible for the injuries he or she sustained, the award they would normally have given will be reduced by 30 percent of the amount.
In this case, the victim’s failure to wear a seat belt could be considered as part of a comparative liability argument made by the defense in a wrongful death case. Although the accident was apparently the fault of the driver for traveling too fast for conditions, the victim’s family might find that they recovered less than the full amount under a wrongful death suit if the jury decided that the victim’s failure to wear a seat belt contributed to his death.
A personal injury attorney may represent a victim who has suffered an injury in a car accident or the family of a victim who has died as the result of another driver’s negligence. In the case of a wrongful death claim, the surviving family members of the victim may be entitled to recover damages including sums for the pain and suffering of the victim, medical and funeral expenses, future lost wages and benefits and loss of love, affection and support of the victim.
- KCRA, “Truckee High senior killed, crushed by truck in rollover crash,” June 12, 2013.