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Venice Boardwalk Crash: Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 1, Injures 11

A hit-and-run driver plowed his car into a crowd on the Venice Boardwalk today, killing one person and injuring 11.

The accident happened about 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening near 1 Dudley Ave.

Witnesses reported that the driver appeared to be in control of his vehicle and purposefully mowing down pedestrians. Witnesses also reported that the driver appeared to be "out for blood" and driving "with intent."

In addition to the one pedestrian who has died so far, 11 others suffered injuries ranging from critical to serious to minor.

The driver, 38-year-old Nathan Louis Campbell, fled the scene on foot. He turned himself in to the Santa Monica Police Department about one hour after the crash. Campbell was later transferred to the Los Angeles Police Department. He has been charged with murder and is being held on a $1 million dollar bond.

Campbell's car was located about an hour after the crash in Santa Monica, at Ocean Park Blvd. and Beverly Ave. It is being described as a 2008 to 2010 black or dark blue Dodge Avenger.

Police have identified the deceased victim as Alice Gruppioni, 32-years-old, of Italy. According to her husband, they were on their honeymoon.

The accident is reminiscent of the 2003 Santa Monica farmer's market crash, in which an elderly driver plowed through a crowded farmer's market, killing 10 people and injuring 69.

What recourse do the victims have in this case?

Do they case a claim against the City of Los Angeles for failing to protect pedestrians? The City will maintain that it is immune from liability. Whether a claimant can prevail against the city will depend on whether that immunity can be overcome.

The decedent's family and injury victims certainly have a claim against the hit-and-run driver. If he had auto insurance, it is extremely unlikely he had sufficient policy limits to cover the victims' claims. Even if Campbell had insurance, the insurance carrier could deny coverage if the driver's conduct is deemed a criminal act. Auto insurance policies typically have a criminal acts exclusion which states that the coverage does not apply to bodily injury that is the result of a criminal act of the insured. Whether the criminal acts exclusion will apply will depend on the policy language. Insurance policy criminal act exclusions are generally conservatively applied in favor of the public policy of compensating innocent car accident victims.

The most promising source of compensation would be the victims' own auto insurance policies if they have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Learn more about uninsured/underinsrued motorist coverage by clicking here.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or wrongful death as the result of a car accident, an attorney at McGee, Lerer & Associates, a Santa Monica personal injury law firm, is available 24-7 to provide a free consultation. We are a husband and wife team of accident attorneys with almost 40 years of combined experience handling exclusively personal injury cases.

If you are an accident victim or a family member of an accident victim, contact our office for a free police report.