Recently, a Santa Ana teenager pleads not guilty to two counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of felony child endangerment by the caretaker and is awaiting trial for a car accident that occurred last year involving six Santa Ana high school students. The driver was going approximately 75 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone prior to attempting to make a high-speed turn. She hit a curb going 47 miles per hour, lost control of the vehicle she was driving and hit several poles before the vehicle flipped on its side.
Two teens were killed in the accident including the driver’s younger brother. Two other passengers suffered serious bodily injuries including a broken jaw and fractured pelvis. In addition to her charges, she faces sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury to four victims. She could spend up to ten years and four months in prison if convicted.
Gross vehicular manslaughter is an enhanced vehicular manslaughter charge. In general, vehicular manslaughter is charged when a driver negligently causes the death of another person. Vehicular manslaughter involves ordinary negligence while gross vehicular manslaughter involves a person acting in a way that is a gross deviation from a reasonable person’s conduct, which shows a disregard for human life.
Under California law, child endangerment is typically charged against an adult (in this case a 19-year-old) who is caring for a minor (someone under the age of 18) and willfully exposes the minor to pain and suffering or danger. When the minor is at risk of death or great bodily harm, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the defendant with a felony.
Teenagers at higher risk of car accidents
Car crash attorneys know that while the Santa Ana teenager’s accident is not your typical teenage car accident scenario, the truth is that teenager drivers are at a heightened risk of being involved in a car accident. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are at a higher risk for a motor vehicle accident than any other age group.
The accident risk increases with other unsupervised teenagers in the vehicle and goes up as the number of teenage passengers increases. Accident risks are even higher in the first few months of licensure and gradually go down with driving experience. Teenage males are at a higher risk of accidents than females.
Teenage driver car accident factors
According to the CDC, the following factors put teen drivers at risk:
- Teens are more likely to make critical decision errors that lead to serious accidents.
- They are more likely to speed and allow a shorter distance between their cars and vehicles in front of them.
- They have a lower seat belt use rate.
- Their risk of an accident is increased at a higher rate for teenagers than adults when speed and alcohol is involved.
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car accident, contact a Santa Ana car accident attorney at the Law Offices of Howard Craig Kornberg to schedule a consultation. Our car accident team handles all types of car accidents and will work to maximize your insurance claim.