A white Toyota Camry struck Jessie Possehl, 15, while he rode bicycle home around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday. Jessie was riding with his brother, 14-year-old Alex Possehl, who was coming home from summer school when the accident occurred. Alex witnessed the collision as the Toyota Camry came around a bend in the 21000 block of River Road in Perris, California and hit his brother head on, according to a report on the Press-Enterprise website.
According to the news report after the bicycle accident, the Camry was left in the middle of River Road and the driver fled on foot, leaving Jessie in the road, according to California Highway Patrol officials. The CHP suspect a local man in his 20s, the son of the owner of the Camry. Investigators are hoping he will turn himself in although they are looking for him.
Jessie died at Inland Regional Medical Center a few hours after the accident. He had been wearing a helmet. Jessie was well liked and fondly remembered.
Please keep Jessie, his family, especially his brother Alex in our prayers and send them good wishes.
What legal recourse is there against the hit-and-run driver of the Camry by the Possehl family?
The obvious claim against the negligent driver is by Jessie’s parents. They have a wrongful death claim. Alex has what is known as a “Dillion Claim”. I’ll explain.
A 1968 California case known as Dillion v. Legg held that a mother could recover damages from the negligent driver for the shock she experienced witnessing her daughter being hit by a car. The California court in this case adopted a foreseeability test for a bystander’s claim. Not every bystander who suffers shock from witnessing an accident qualifies.
To determine foreseeability, the Dillion court ruled a plaintiff who suffers shock from witnessing an accident has a claim against a person causing the accident when: (1) the plaintiff is located near the scene of the accident; (2) the shock suffered results from a direct emotional impact from the sensory and contemporaneous observance of the accident (watching it happen); and (3) the plaintiff and the victim are closely related.
Dillion claims are commonly brought in California by the more aggressive and knowledgeable personal injury law firms. Any auto accident involving family members would qualify such as Alex watching his brother’s accident and suffering the natural shock from the “sensory and contemporaneous observance of the accident”.