Luis Samaniego Barajas and Zachary Frank Leets, both 20-years-old, have been sentenced to four years in prison as a result of a deadly car crash they caused while allegedly street racing. The Torrance auto accident, which occurred in June 2017, resulted in the death of 20-year-old Maximillian Alexis Rojas.
According to The Daily Breeze, Rojas was traveling home from work on the Pacific Coast Highway when the car accident occurred. Barajas and Leets were strangers who decided to race one another. During the race, Barajas’s car, a Honda coupe, “struck a center median, became airborne and crashed head-on into the victim’s Nissan sedan,” killing Rojas. The accident was so powerful, the engine in Rojas’ car broke free and landed in the street. Barajas was hospitalized after the incident, however, Leets fled the scene and was later arrested. They both pled no contest to vehicular manslaughter to avoid trial and will now spend four years in prison.
In California, street racing is a crime. As in this case, those who participate in street racing will face criminal charges. When street racing harms another person, the criminal consequences will be more severe and likely will include jail time. However, facing criminal consequences does not eliminate the civil liability those responsible for crash owe to anyone they hurt as a result of their actions. A civil claim, such as a personal injury or wrongful death claim, is separate and distinct from criminal charges. While criminal charges involve the government bringing a charge against a person for illegal behavior, civil claims are between two people (or entities, like a company) for wrongs done by person one to another.
If you are injured as a result of another person’s careless choice to participate in a street race, you can file a personal injury claim against that person to receive financial compensation for your injuries. If a loved one is killed as a result of illegal street racing, like in this case, the surviving family members can bring a wrongful death claim against those responsible. While no amount of money can begin to cover their loss, a wrongful death claim provides some compensation to the family to cover the unexpected funeral and burial expenses, hospital bills, and even lost wages. This compensation can be recovered from insurance company of the driver(s) that caused the accident, as well as their personal assets. A wrongful death attorney can assist a victim’s family in filing this type of claim to get the compensation they deserve.
No one should have to lose someone they love because of the poor choice of another to participate in street racing. If you have lost someone you love in a car accident caused by another, you should reach out to a skilled Torrance wrongful death attorney. Our wrongful death lawyers at Walch Law are experienced with handling car accident wrongful death claims in Los Angeles county and throughout Southern California. We offer free consultations for family members of wrongful death victims. Contact us today at 866-465-8792.