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Anyone who studies literature is familiar with the figure of the “tragic hero”. In mythology, drama, and fiction, readers can easily find an example of an otherwise noble character who has, due to a so-called ‘tragic flaw”, fallen from grace. These characters are sympathetic. They are not villains or bad people, and their likeability makes it difficult for some readers to hold them accountable for their actions. For example, Macbeth may be homicidally ambitious, but, deep down, he’s got a conscience. Unfortunately, while readers lack hatred for the tragic hero, they often ignore the minor characters who suffer because of that hero’s mistakes. It is, often, very difficult to hold a presumed ‘good guy’ accountable for his bad acts. However, when it comes to the law, not doing so may cause further harm to an injured person.

This happened in the case of Alan Adams, which recently settled for $5.7 million. Adams was 18 when he was fatally shot in 2001 after allegedly running a stop sign in Stanislaus county in California. After a highway chase, police cruisers rammed his vehicle to stop him. Adams drove in reverse as he tried to flee, but Highway Patrolman Paul Speers shot him twice through the windshield.

In defense of his actions, Speers claimed that he was pinned between Adams’ car and his cruiser, and was therefore forced to shoot in self-defense. However, after two eyewitnesses testified that Speers was not pinned between the cars, forensic evidence, including how the shell casings landed and the bullet trajectories, proved that the shots could not have been fired from where Speers was allegedly pinned.

Years after the accident and Adams’ death, the jury awarded $5.5 million to the family which was reduced by 20 percent for the deceased’s comparative negligence.

Obviously, the last thing anyone wants to think about after the death of a loved one is the expense that will result from the death. There are funeral expenses, burial costs, and leftover medical bills to be settled even as the family attempts to cope with grief. In these cases, it is best to consult a personal injury attorney who can handle your case and advise you of your rights.

Trials can become frustrating when opposing parties come up with ludicrous magic bullet theories in order to exempt themselves from liability. You need to focus on the case, not on bills that pile up. Let a personal injury attorney with experience in auto accident litigation help.

As for the case of Alan Adams, no one will argue that Officer Speers was a violent or “bad” person; he was merely an otherwise good person who made a tragic mistake. However, we must never ignore the fact that those who suffer deserve justice.

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