A passenger in a drunk driver's car was killed in a crash on Wednesday.
The accident happened just after 9 p.m. in Boyle Heights. The driver, a 20-year-old female, was traveling in the 2700 block of Washington Blvd. when she lost control and struck a utility pole.
A male passenger in the car was killed. The driver suffered only minor injuries.
According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspected drunk driver was arrested on manslaughter charges.
What rights to the parents of the decedent have? They certainly have a liablity claim against the driver of the car. If the driver was in fact driving under the influence of alcohol, California law entitles the parents to make a claim for punitive damages against the drunk driver. If the driver's policy limit is insufficient, the parents may be able to make a claim under the deceased passenger's underinsured motorist coverage, if the pasenger was covered under his own or his parents' auto insurance policy and they had such coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage which kicks in if an at-fault driver's liability policy limit is not enough to cover the value of an injury claim. In order for the underinsured motorist coverage to apply, the underinsured motorist policy limit must be greater than the at-fault driver's liability policy limit. If the underinsured motorist policy limit is equal to or less than the at-fault driver's liability policy limit, the underinsured motorist coverage will not apply.
At McGee, Lerer & Associates, our #1 piece of advice to everyone is to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and to have high limits. We recommend at least $100,000 per person, $250,000 per accident. Even better: $250,000 per person, $500,000 per accident. Your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will apply not only if you are injured while driving, but also if you or your
children are injured by a car while walking or bicycling.
Please check your auto insurance policy today and make sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and enough. Also check your parents' and childrens' policies. It is so unfortunate that people don't realize the importance of this coverage (or even what this coverage is) until after an accident, at which time it's too late.