October 21, 2012—Lake Tahoe, CA—A man involved in a Lake Tahoe bar fight in May died Wednesday after he was taken off life support in a Contra Costa County care facility, according to KCRA News sources. The man had suffered traumatic brain injury during the incident.
Derek “Zippy” Penaranda, 30, was involved in an altercation in “Mo’s Place,” a sports bar in South Lake Tahoe, on May 20, 2012. Witnesses stated that he was asked to leave the facility for being disruptive. In the ensuing struggle with bar employees, Penaranda was injured by one of the bouncers. He has been in a coma since that time.
Authorities stated that Penaranda had begun the altercation by punching the owner of the bar, who he knocked unconscious. No one has been arrested at this point, but the police say that the incident is still under investigation.
My condolences go out to the Penaranda family at this time.
Head Injuries Responsible for Large Number of Fatalities
According to the Centers for Disease Control, at least 52,000 people die and another 275,000 are hospitalized each year due to traumatic brain injuries. Many of the victims who survive a traumatic brain injury accident remain comatose for some time before death, or suffer life-long incapacities caused by the brain damage.
The CDC estimates that about 31 percent of all accidents involve some form of brain injury, making this one of the most common serious injuries in all types of accidents.
Is It An Accident When The Victim Is At Fault?
There is a very important question that many people have when considering the injuries of a victim who has placed himself or herself in harm’s way or is engaged in criminal activity. For example, when a person robs a store at gunpoint and is subsequently shot by police trying to escape, does the victim have the right to collect damages from the police?
While the answer to this question may seem obvious, it is not necessarily as clear-cut as it seems. In the present case, one issue that must be addressed is whether the bouncers used excessive force in subduing the man. Another issue is whether the man could reasonably expect to receive such treatment at the hands of security guards.
The answers to these questions are given by juries in many cases. In California, a jury in a civil lawsuit has the right to consider comparative liability, a principle that allows them to consider the actions of the victim as well as the person that caused the accident. Juries may decide to award the victim a partial settlement with the amount reduced by the percentage they feel the victim contributed to the accident.