Magana Cathcart & McCarthy

Suspect Arrested in Venice Beach Boardwalk Fatal Car Crash

Venice Beach Boardwalk

Only hours after a man drove a 2008 Dodge Avenger onto the Venice Beach Boardwalk on Saturday, August 3rd and plowed through the crowds, killing one person and injuring over a dozen others, the police had a suspect in custody. Nathan Louis Campbell has been charged with murder and several other felony counts and is currently being held on over $1 million bail.

Driver May Face Civil Liability As Well As Criminal Prosecution

Civil liability for personal injury and wrongful death can arise not only from negligence or recklessness, but also from intentional acts such as assault and battery, or a vehicular assault like what occurred in this case. Regardless of the outcome of any criminal prosecution, the people injured in the incident and the family of the woman who was killed may be able to sue the driver for his wrongful acts. Even if they are successful, though, there may still be a question over whether the driver’s insurance company would be obligated to pay any judgment, and the man himself, described as a transient, may have little wherewithal to pay any such judgment on his own.

Might there be other entities who also bear some legal responsibility, like the City of Los Angeles itself? Although there were barriers in place to keep vehicles off the boardwalk, Campbell was apparently able to get his car through the barricades, so obviously they were not sufficient. In fact, people drive onto the boardwalk accidentally every day, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin, who called for a needs assessment and immediate action to keep boardwalk pedestrians safe from motor vehicles. There may be a question of how much the City knew or should have known regarding the safety of the public and the likelihood of pedestrian injuries occurring from vehicles on the boardwalk, regardless of whether it could have predicted this particular malicious act. Municipal tort claims are handled differently than lawsuits against private persons, however, so any action against the City would need to be initiated very soon.

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