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Utah Man Facing Homicide Charges After Wrong-Way Crash

by / Monday, 26 March 2018 / Published in Car Accident, Personal Injury, Wrongful Death

A Utah man is facing homicide charges in connection with wrong-way crash that took the lives of three people on Saturday.

Utah Man Facing Homicide Charges After Wrong-Way Crash

Dana Michael Cavanaugh, 49, of Washington, Utah, was booked on suspicion of three counts of murder and four counts of endangerment.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said Cavanaugh was traveling west approximately 500 feet in the eastbound lane before colliding head-on with another vehicle at about 10:50 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Two 31-year-old women and a 55-year-old woman from Riverside, Calif., were killed.

Cavanaugh was transported to a nearby hospital with injuries.

According to DPS spokesman Raul Garcia, impairment has not been ruled out.

Cavanaugh is being held on $600,000 bail.

Saturday’s crash was the fourth wrong-way collision to be reported in Arizona this year.

Wrong-Way Accidents

Quite often impairment, in the form of driving under the influence, is the main cause of wrong-way car accidents. Here are some other main causes of car accidents: speeding and reckless driving, using a mobile phone, driver fatigue, rubber-necking, car defaults, poor road conditions, poor traffic conditions. Practicing good driving safety is key to keeping you safe when on the road. If you have been involved in a car accident, you should seek the help of an attorney. They will be able to defend you should you choose to file a lawsuit for injuries.


Be a Good Driver

Here are some precautions to take to ensure you are a good driver:

  • Be cautious
  • Remain alert when approaching streets or busy intersections.
  • Make sure you are aware of any pedestrians that might be entering the road or on the road (running or bicyclists).
  • If you are driving at night, make sure all of your headlights and tail-lights are working, and that you are clearly visible.
  • Make sure your car is properly maintained. This includes frequent brake checks.
  • Pay special attention when entering or exiting parking lots, as often you will need to cross a sidewalk to enter.
  • Follow posted speed limits.
  • Avoid distractions including texting, phone calls, or reaching for things that have fallen.

Even when people act with caution, accidents still occur. That’s why it’s advised that you work with a personal injury attorney. No one has intentions of hurting anyone, but when both sides of a lawsuit – both plaintiff and defendant – feel that they acted correctly, these cases can be difficult to come to an agreement on.

Personal Injury Attorney

A personal injury attorney handles any number of things that are “personal injuries,” including: car and bus accidents, elevator accidents, accidents that occur on city streets, bed bugs, dog bites, and construction accidents and wrongful deaths.

A personal injury can be defined as a physical and/or mental injury that occurs because of someone else’s negligence, intentional actions, or strict liability.

Negligence: when another party fails to act with reasonable care. For example: if you suffer physical injuries as the result of a driver rear-ending you because they are not paying attention, the injuries could be deemed a personal injury due to negligence.

Intentional Harm: when another person sets out to hurt you. Examples include: battery, assault, and false imprisonment.

Strict Liability: if you are injured by a product (such as a malfunctioning car), anyone involved in the production, distribution, or sale of the defective product can be held responsible.

Steps in Personal Injury Lawsuit

There are some things that a personal injury attorney will immediately want to do. We outline them below.

Reconstructing an Accident

When an accident occurs, and there are no eye-witnesses, it’s hard to understand exactly what occurred. The accident needs to be reconstructed by investigators in order to get a full understanding. Once that understanding has been given, liability can be assessed. The dynamics, methodology, and principles involved in reconstructing a pedestrian accident are slightly different than those used to reconstruct car accidents.  An investigator looks at car speed as well as pedestrian speed (which can be very difficult to determine), perception and reaction time, as well as highway design and sign placement. The pedestrian’s impact kinematics (which is how the pedestrian moved at or through the impact phase of the collision) are reconstructed. Once all these factors have been identified, a lawyer can build a negligence or wrongful death case based on the investigator’s findings.

Determining Negligence During an Accident

In the case of pedestrian and car accidents, negligence can be assigned to both sides of the accident: to the driver, or to the pedestrian. Drivers are considered negligent if they neglect to do the following:

  • Pay attention to surroundings
  • Adhere to posted speed limits
  • Yield at stop lights and cross-walks
  • Properly use turn signals
  • Adhere to Arizona state traffic laws

A pedestrian can be considered negligent if they do the following:

  • Run-out in front of cars
  • Illegally jaywalk
  • Fail to use designated cross-walks
  • Ignore pedestrian signals at traffic lights
  • Fail to pay attention to surroundings and traffic situations

Wrongful Death Cases

 A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought against someone who has caused another person’s death either through negligence or through intentional harm and are a variation of a standard personal injury negligence suit. Typically, a “wrongful death” claim is brought by the estate of the deceased on behalf of surviving members and other affected parties. The suit is filed against the party they allege is liable for the death.

Two Forms of Wrongful Death Claim

There are two forms a wrongful death claim can take. Either the charge is negligence or intention. This means either the victim died as the result of a negligent act of the defendant. Or the victim died as the result of the defendant’s intentions to kill the victim. Some examples of negligence include: victim’s death as a result of medical malpractice, drunk driving, or the victim dies as the result of a faulty engine in the car the victim was riding in. And example of intention is when the defendant is believed to have murdered the victim on purpose.

Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

For the defendant to be declared liable in a wrongful death claim, the claim brought must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet if the victim was alive. In the case of a negligence trial, plaintiffs must show the defendant owed a duty of care to the victim, that the defendant breached this duty of care, and that the breach of this duty directly caused the death of the victim.

Working with a Personal Injury Attorney After an Accident

If you have been a victim in a car, truck, pedestrian, or bicycle accident, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney that understands the specific laws around these types of accidents. They will be able to perform a full investigation and build your case. It’s crucial that you work with someone that knows the intricacies of the laws surrounding these types of cases as well as your specific state’s laws. The attorneys at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC have experience handling personal injury cases such as car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents. They will help build a case to ensure you receive everything you need to recover from your specific accident.

Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC

668 N 44th St.

Suite 300

Phoenix, AZ 85008

Phone: (623) 552-4959