On 9/16/16, on northbound Highway 101 in Palo Alto, California, a heavy metal projectile approximately the size of a tennis ball smashed through the window of a minivan, killing the driver, the beloved 82-year-old Louis Schaefer, a Bay Area retired engineer. Ironically, the at-fault party appears to be CALTRANS, the very entity responsible for keeping our highways free of dirt and debris. It is reported that the projectile appears to be a cap to the tank of a CALTRANS water truck that detached while the truck was traveling on southbound Highway 101.
Surviving family members in fatal accident cases caused by governmental entities such as CALTRANS are entitled to bring claims for wrongful death. While a two-year statute of limitations is applicable to accident claims against private parties, there is a governmental claims process applicable to CALTRANS that must be complied with pursuant to California State law which dictates that a governmental claim be brought within 6 months of the accident.