Elated to see their 9-year-old son make his First Communion, the parents of the new communicant prepared to pick up a cake for the First Communion party that was to follow. Friends, family and church members arrived at the nearby community hall for the celebration, while the boy’s parents and paternal grandmother went to get the cake. The three traveled quickly along a rural road outside of Castroville flanked by dirt turn-off roads, and planned to join the party already in progress.
On the opposite side of the road ahead of them, a semi-truck driver signaled to turn left onto one of the dirt roads. Unable to react in time to miss the turning semi-truck driver, the driver of the passenger vehicle slammed hard into the rear of the semi-truck, causing the big rig’s trailer to detach and collide with another vehicle.
Blunt force trauma injuries sustained from the impact of hitting the semi-truck killed the parents and grandmother instantly. The crash into the semi-truck started a fire and engulfed the vehicle in flames, incinerating it completely.
In that instant, the 9-year-old boy and new communicant was orphaned, losing both his parents and grandmother in the accident. Several members of this deeply rooted Salinas Valley family, including the boy’s surviving grandparents, aunts and uncles, suffered an enormous loss with these deaths. Not only did the young boy lose his parents, his paternal grandfather lost his wife and son and his remaining sons lost their mother and brother. The maternal grandparents also lost their daughter with whom they had been living. The mother’s surviving sister - the boy’s aunt - formally adopted him as her son shortly after the accident.
Although substantial evidence and witness testimony were unfavorable to the family’s case, Dunnion Law continued to pursue the insurance company aggressively and invested heavily to help the family win its case. Expert witnesses in accident reconstruction were retained to help prove liability and negligence against the semi-truck driver and his company. This intense preparation for trial, coupled with the skilled handling of the attorney and public sympathy for the newly orphaned boy, prompted the insurance company to offer the family a seven-figure settlement and close this case just weeks before the trial date.
The insurance company’s agreement to pay a $1,500,000 settlement was an unexpectedly high award given the liability and adverse conditions of the accident. The family has set up an account to ensure the minor child has the financial support and means needed to continue his life without his parents.