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Wrongful death suit is awarded largest verdict in county history

On July 5th, 2008, a California woman lost her life in a fatal accident along Road 416 and Highway 41. Now, after two years, her family has finally received compensation for the loss of their loved one. A Madera County, California, jury settled the family's wrongful death suit against the State of California Department of Transportation with a multimillion dollar verdict.

Records state that this settlement is the largest wrongful death verdict in Madera County history. The sum will surely help the victim's surviving husband and four children cover the financial burden caused by the accident, although no amount of money could fully compensate this family for the loss of their wife and mother.

The victim lost her life in a motorcycle accident while riding with her husband on Highway 41. The couple's cycle collided with a large GMC truck, which was pulling another vehicle on a trailer. In order to pull onto Highway 41, the road's design forced the GMC's driver to make a wide turn, consequently blocking the oncoming lane, and catching the victim and her husband by surprise as they rounded the corner. Finding their lane completely blocked, the southbound motorcycle crashed into the GMC.

According to the family's attorneys, the victim's death was only the most recent tragedy in a long history of broadside accidents which have occurred at this junction. Although the California Department of Transportation did make safety improvements at the intersection in 2009, the family's lawsuit pointed out that these measures were too little, too late for the victim. The jury agreed that the department's failure to improve the intersection sooner played a large role in the victim's death.

The family's attorney stated that the plaintiff's hoped the verdict would spur the county to address other treacherous intersections and road conditions which endanger driver safety.

Source: Sierra Star. "Jury awards family $2 million in wrongful death." Brian Wilkinson, 10 February 2011

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