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Child’s Death Results in $250 K Settlemen

Dougherty & Holloway April 16, 2015

A $250,000 settlement was awarded for the family of a child who died in a wrongful death case filed against the driver, Manuel D. Callejas, who allegedly dropped his mobile phone during the crash that also killed him.

Callejas was pronounced dead at the scene, after losing control of his 2000 GMC Sierra, causing it to flip and roll multiple times and ejecting him from the vehicle. Car with smashed windshield

Two children were also thrown from the vehicle who were riding with him, 7-year-old Martha Paulina Hernandez, and her sister. The 7 year old was removed from life support two days later after it was determined she was brain dead. Her sister survived. 

Martha Alicia Hernandez, the girl’s mother, filed suit alleging that Callejas reached down to retrieve his cell phone, causing the accident. The plaintiff’s attorney for the case said that account came from the sister who said Callejas’s phone rang dropping it while reaching for it.

An issue in the suit was the interpretation of the wrongful death damage statute in the case of a minor, how  future earnings should be calculated and whether that constituted pecuniary loss to the mother.

The plaintiff’s attorney stated, “They had an economist who testified and he came up with a pecuniary loss figure of approximately $1.48 million,” he said. “But ultimately the jury did not accept that testimony and didn’t believe him.”

“Ultimately, they [the jury] felt that since the vehicle did go off the side of the road, there was probably negligence,” he said. “I felt $250,000 was a very good result.”

If you have had an accident, what have you done to get the settlement you deserve?