Philanthropist and Former Magazine Publisher Charged in Fatal Accident

October 12, 2020

Rebecca Grossman, the philanthropist and former magazine publisher killed two children in an intersection crash that police blame on a combination of speed and alcohol.

The wreck happened at the corner of Triunfo Canyon Road and Saddle Mountain Drive. As a family of six was crossing the street inside the crosswalk, the parents heard a car approaching at a high rate of speed. They were able to protect the two children closest to them, including one who was in a stroller. But an 11-year-old boy and an 8-year-old boy were a few steps away, so 57-year-old Rebecca Grossman struck them. Investigators stated that Grossman carried one of the boys on her hood for about a hundred feet before she stopped.

The 11-year-old was declared dead at the scene. The 8-year-old was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died. Grossman, whose bail was set at $2 million, is scheduled to appear in court on October 21.

Speed and Pedestrian Collisions

People crossing the street have no protection from oncoming cars. Children and older adults are particularly vulnerable to serious injury. If speed is a factor in the wreck, the results are often even more tragic. Speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision.

Speed multiples stopping distance. So, even if speeding drivers see pedestrians in the road, they have less time to react. At 20mph, most vehicles travel about three car lengths in the few moments it takes for a driver to see a hazard, apply the brakes, and safely stop the car. At 30mph, stopping distance doubles to six car lengths.

Velocity not only multiplies stopping distance. It also multiples the force in a collision between two objects. Because of the aforementioned vulnerability, this effect is more pronounced in pedestrian accidents. At speeds of 25mph or lower, the pedestrian death rate is less than 10 percent. The fatality rate skyrockets to 50 percent at impact speeds of 40mph.

Even if pedestrians survive the impact, the road to recovery is long and winding. Many of these victims sustain head injuries. These wounds are always permanent. When brain cells die, they never regenerate. Physical therapy assuages the symptoms. But brain injury physical therapy is long and difficult. Therapists must slowly train uninjured areas of the brain to assume lost functions.

Alcohol and Car Crashes

This substance clouds judgement abilities and impairs motor skills. That combination might be fun at parties, but it is often deadly on the road. Because impaired drivers arguably disregard a known risk when they get behind the wheel, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney usually has multiple legal options.

If emergency responders file criminal charges, such as DUI manslaughter or even simple DUI, the negligence per se shortcut usually applies. Drivers who violate safety laws like this one and cause injury are typically liable for damages as a matter of law.

This doctrine usually applies even if the motorist “beats” the DUI on a technicality. A civil negligence claim is independent from a criminal charge.

Many drivers are impaired but not intoxicated. Impairment begins with the first drink. Therefore, driving after even one drink arguably violates the duty of care. Circumstantial evidence of impairment includes:

  • Erratic driving prior to the crash,
  • Bloodshot eyes,
  • Statements about alcohol consumption,
  • Unsteady balance, and
  • Previous location (e.g. did the driver just come from a place that serves alcohol).

The burden of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) in civil court. So, if the driver recently was at a place that served alcohol, it’s more likely than not that the person consumed alcohol there as well.

These same principles apply in drugged driving cases. It is against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana, a prescription painkiller, or any other drug, even if the drug is legal to use. Furthermore, one puff or pill is usually enough to impair most drivers.

Damages in a car crash claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases. Running over two children in a crosswalk while speeding and intoxicated is about as extreme as one can get.

A few moments of neglect behind the wheel could cause a tragic injury. For a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney, contact the Law Office of Eslamboly Hakim. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Photo Credit: versageek via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sharona Hakim

Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.

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