The Los Angeles Times reports that the L.A. City Council recently voted to pay the largest traffic accident-related wrongful death settlement in the city's history. The city is set to pay $6.6 million to the family of 27-year-old woman who was killed just outside of her Sylmar home in spring of 2010.
The woman was killed by a speeding police squad car as she pulled out of her driveway. Reports of the crash indicate that the woman's car was broadsided at around 70 mph, which is double the speed limit in front of the woman's home. The police car also did not have its emergency lights on and was therefore not supposed to be speeding. There is also evidence that the police car's headlights were not on during this nighttime accident and that the officer lied about turning the lights off after the crash.
In response to the embarrassing details of this particular crash, the LAPD has decided to change the way it deals with officer-related car accidents. The department used to treat these crashes like internal misconduct investigations, but now the LAPD will treat officer-related crashes more like officer-involved shootings.
The city has paid over $30 million during the past decade to settle about 400 LAPD-involved car accidents during the past decade. The city decided to settle the Sylmar woman's case because a jury would have likely returned a far higher verdict given the fact that she left behind a 4-year-old son and that her husband heard the crash, ran outside of the home, and watched as his wife died.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "City to pay LAPD crash victim's family $6.6 million," Joel Rubin and David Zahniser, June 29, 2012