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Estate's Personal Representative is Only Entitled To Collect Restitution Damages for Decedent's Pre-Death Economic Losses

During the early hours of April 6, 2007, Paul Dean Runyan (defendant and appellant), got drunk at a nightclub and tried to drive home. On his drive home, he entered the 134 Freeway travelling in the wrong direction. Runyan's car collided head on with Donald Benge's vehicle, and Benge was killed instantly. Runyan escaped with only minor injuries.

On November 4, 2008, Runyan was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence causing injury and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or greater causing injury. The trial court ordered Runyan to pay restitution damages of $446,486, for net losses to the contents of Benge's residence, probate costs, funeral expenses and other assets. Since Benge had no family, dependents, or heirs, Runyan was directed to pay the restitution damages to Benge's estate. Runyan appealed claiming that Benge's estate was not a "direct victim" of the crime under Penal Code section 1202.4.

Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.