In late June, in La Mesa, an elderly nursing home resident was killed when a runaway car rolled down the hill and into the nursing home premises. The car, an Audi which was perched atop an adjacent hill, apparently was either left in neutral or without the parking brake engaged, and proceeded to roll some 260 feet. The car went through the nursing home wall and into the room of an 86-year-old patient and World War II veteran. The man was knocked from his chair and bumped his head on the floor. He was rushed to the hospital, but never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at Sharp Memorial Hospital.
The car’s owner, a 24-year-old man, claims that the parking brake was on and the car was in park when he left it that day, dismissing liability and disavowing knowledge of how the car could have rolled down the hill in the deadly accident. San Diego district attorneys are currently investigating the incident to determine if there was a negligent driver and may be filing criminal charges.
In the meantime, however, the family of the deceased victim wants the Audi owner to be held accountable for his actions. The family expressed sadness and disbelief that their father survived a war but died in this most unusual way. They have not said whether they will seek compensation or file a civil suit against the negligent driver.
If the family seeks retribution for the death of the man, they may be able to do so regardless of whether the district attorney brings criminal charges. The standard of care owed in tort cases is less than the culpability required for most criminal acts. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, his potential recklessness could make him liable to the family of the man, and to others, for damages resulting from the accident.
Source: The RAFU Shimpo, “Car hits nursing home, kills resident,” July 3, 2012