A tragic DUI that took the life of one victim and left another critically injured three years ago in Santa Ana has resulted in a second-degree murder conviction of the drunk driver. Jesus Segura Herrera, 32, was convicted of multiple felonies, including DUI causing injury and hit and run with permanent and serious injury, as well as enhanced sentences for inflicting bodily harm to both victims.
The accident, which took place on December 2, 2018, occurred when Herrera got behind the wheel of a car with a blood alcohol level of at least .25 and rear-ended another vehicle on Grand Avenue, killing a rear passenger and severely injuring the front seat passenger. Herrera faces a life sentence.
Wrongful death and criminal conviction
While a wrongful death suit usually occurs in civil court, when the death of an individual was the result of a criminal act, it raises interesting questions about the appropriate way to pursue a claim. In California, vehicular manslaughter occurs when the accused operates a vehicle in a negligent or unlawful manner causing the death of another. But if the charge becomes second-degree murder, there is the added element of implied malice in the act.
The main differences between a criminal case and a wrongful death action are where they take place and the burden of proof necessary to establish guilt. A murder case will take place in criminal court, while a wrongful death suit happens in civil court. In a criminal case, the burden of proof is to show that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable a doubt. But a wrongful death action seeks to prove with a preponderance of the evidence that the accused is responsible for the death of another.
The end result of a murder conviction is imprisonment and fines, but in a civil suit, it is financial compensation to the family for the loss of a loved one. But if the defendant is found guilty of murder, they will probably also be liable for damages in a wrongful death suit.
Filing a claim
In a wrongful death claim, the personal representative for the estate of the deceased must show that:
- there has been the death of a person
- the cause was due to another’s negligence or intent to harm
- there has been financial injury to the family as a result
When pursuing a claim, it is important to find out more about the best way to ease the pain of loss to the grieving family so that they can find closure.