Two Deadly Accident on Highway 46 Spur Further Talks of Highway Changes

Posted on October 30, 2009 by bermanstaff

BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA – Two accidents on Highway 46 that have killed six adults and one infant within days of each other have re-directed attention to a two-lane stretch of highway known as “Blood Alley”. Last Wednesday, three 19-year-olds were killed on Highway 46 near Wasco when their Toyota Corolla collided with a truck. The car was attempting a high speed passing attempt just prior to the accident. Driver Steven Dub and passengers Kayla Shepard and Hilary Kendall Fix, were all killed.

On October 23, five days prior to that accident, Walter Earl Elliot and Shirlene Ann Soto died on the same stretch of road when their Toyota Prius was in a head-on collision with a Chevy Cavalier. The Cavalier was attempting to pass two trucks on the Highway at the time of the collision. The driver of the Cavalier, Jose Alberto Sanchez, and one year old Nathaniel Sanchez were also killed in that accident. Another passenger in the Cavalier was taken to Kern Medical Center with major injuries.

These recent fatalities occurred just before the planned November 10 ceremony to mark the beginning of expanding Highway 46 from two to four lanes. The improvements to the highway have been in the planning stages for about ten years due to safety concerns on the current two lane highway. After November 10, the improvements are set to be done in segments. The improvements were originally sparked by a 1999 crash that killed a young woman and left an entire family badly injured. After that accident, there was a public outcry to repair the road.

When that accident occurred, the Waski family, Michael and Eileen and sons AJ and Michael Jr. were traveling on Highway 46 to celebrate July 4th with friends. They were hit by a car driven by 22-year-old Michelle Phillips. She died at the scene. However, the Waski family all survived but their lives were forever altered. The family ultimately sued the state over dangerous road conditions and settled for $4 million in 2001. That amount was awarded to the Waski family to pay for weekly physical, speech and occupational therapy sessions for a few of the family members.

Soon after that accident and settlement, Caltrans completed an environmental study about the impact of expanding the road. Law enforcement officials still say that motorists are the cause of the accident, not the road conditions. Lieutenant Doyle Green of the California Highway Patrol said that unsafe passing is the real cause of the high fatality rate, not the highway itself. The speed limit on the road is 55 miles per hour and people get impatient and try to pass when passing is unsafe. Proponents of the increase to 4 lanes claim that a passing lane is necessary for driver safety on Highway 46.

Regardless of the cause of the accidents on Highway 46, those injured by someone else’s unlawful driving may be legally entitled to recover for their injuries. If you have lost a loved one because of a third party’s wrongful conduct, you may be able to recover for your pain and suffering and loss of support in a wrongful death action.

The lawyers at Berman & Riedel, LLP, led by managing partner William Berman, have handled many personal injury and wrongful death cases. If you would like to speak to a compassionate and experienced attorney, contact the firm to set up a meeting. There is no charge for your initial consultation.

About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others. Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.
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Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

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Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

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An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

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