A driver lost control of her car in a Santa Monica parking garage on Friday, critically injuring two pedestrians.
The crash occurred just before 1 pm in Parking Structure 7, which is located on the southwest corner of 4th and Broadway, connected to the Santa Monica Place mall. A female driver of a Toyota Camry entered the parking structure, pulled just past the ticket booth, then reached back to get her ticket. Her foot came off the brake and she mistakenly hit the accelerator. Her car accelerated forward, towards the ground floor elevator.
Standing in front of the elevator were five family members, visiting from out-of-state. The car slammed into two of them, a 67-year-old man and his soon to be daughter-in-law, a 24-year-old woman. The victims were pinned against the wall.
According to Santa Monica Police Department spokesman Richard Lewis, the two victims suffered critical injuries to their legs, and the woman suffered a head injury. The driver was also injured in the crash.
The names of the driver and the victims have not been released.
The Camry driver cooperated with police. She passed field sobriety tests. The police will be testing blood taken from the driver, and are reviewing video security film. According to Sgt. Lewis, the information so far points to it being a tragic accident.
Given the severity of the injuries suffered by the two victims, unless the driver was in the course and scope of employment at the time of the accident, which would bring her employer's liability insurance into play, there is a good chance the driver will not have enough insurance to cover the damage caused. If either of the two victims has uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on their own cars, they may be able to make a claim under their own auto insurance policies, after exhausting the driver's policy limits.
A victim's underinsured motorist coverage will only apply if the victim's policy limit is greater than the driver's liability policy limit. For example, if a driver who caused an accident had liability coverage of $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident (which is the lowest coverage a driver can have in California), the victim's underinsured motorist coverage will apply if the policy limit on the underinsured motorist coverage is greater than $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident. If the victim's underinsured motorist policy limit is less than or equal to the driver's liability policy limit, then the victim cannot make an underinsured motorist claim.
At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we are strong proponents that everyone carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of at least $100,000 per person $300,000 per accident, better still: $250,000 per person, $500,000 per accident. It is the only way to protect yourself in the event that you are struck by a negligent driver who has no insurance, or not enough insurance. We tell every client to check their auto insurance policy, and the policies of family members and friends, to make sure they have this coverage. If your agent told you have "full coverage" – that does not mean you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Check your policy today.
McGee, Lerer & Associates is a Santa Monica personal injury law firm that specializes in serious injuries. We are a husband and wife team of attorneys with over 40 of combined experience representing Santa Monica car accident victims and their families.
Contact us for a free consultation or a free copy of a police report. An attorney at our firm is available 24/7.