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Family of Crash Victim Receives $1.5 Million Settlement from School District


A school district in Santa Barbara County has settled for $1.5 million with the family of a woman who died in a fiery crash last year when she was hit by a minivan driven by a school principal during a school trip. According to a news article in the Santa Maria Times, the lawsuit filed against the Cuyama Joint Union School District by the family of Marie Crook alleged wrongful death  and property damage from the Sept. 28 crash, which also took the life of Cuyama Valley High School Principal Donald Wilson.

According to the article, the crash occurred when the 49-year-old Wilson was heading back from a school trip with the students following in a separate vehicle. For some unknown reason, Wilson’s minivan drifted across the centerline and collided head-on with the 75-year-old Crook’s vehicle, which caused Crook’s fatal injuries. The woman’s husband, James Crook, who was driving at the time, also suffered major injuries in the crash, the article said. James Crook and the couple’s 11 children received a $1.4 million settlement from the school district and a $100,000 settlement from Wilson’s life insurance policy totaling to $1.5 million.

The plaintiff’s attorney said he was happy with the settlement because of James Crook’s age and the possibility of a lengthy trial as well as possible defense testimony that Wilson may have swerved into oncoming traffic because he suffered a heart attack as he was driving.

However, the plaintiffs planned to present expert testimony that Wilson did not suffer a heart attack, he added. According to the article, the plaintiffs did not want to go after the school district, but only after the insurance money, which they got.

This is a tragic case and a typical example of a no-win situation for both families and the school district. But the plaintiff’s family did the right thing by hiring a personal injury attorney to help protect their legal rights. This particular case is unique because there is the question of whether the principal suffered a heart attack as he was driving. But in many other cases Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys has dealt with, we’ve had remarkable success in getting settlements and favorable jury verdicts where an on-duty employee was negligent or at-fault in an injury crash. In these cases, the employer can be held liable.

If you have questions about these cases or about an injury crash, you’ve been in, call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a complimentary consultation.

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