Robert Martinez was killed in a construction zone, as his car sat in a standstill of rush hour traffic. His Hyundai - sandwiched between two other vehicles, after a young driver rear ended him at 65 miles per hour.
On Thursday morning, another setback. "We've got the police video that says he wasn't wearing a seat belt and speeding," said Maria Martinez, widow. "Statute of limitations ran out last night at midnight. They didn't let us know that. That little boy walked away free and clear, totaled three vehicles, killed a man, and he walked away. His insurance didn't even go up."
Maria Martinez had no relationship with her mother in law, and neither did her children. But because her husband did not have a will, she was forced to prove her relationship with her husband, and her kids with their father, to be able to collect any insurance money. "It took 15 months and we had to prove by pictures, cards, letters, affidavits... She only had to prove she gave birth to him, and she was entitled to the money."
To spare her children the agony of testifying in court, Martinez conceded the money to her mother in law. Now she has made it her mission, to prevent the same thing from happening to other families, with a bill named for her late husband.
"I'm going to take Burden of Proof off of us and put it on the parents. If you're a biological parent and you have an adult child, married with a family. You have to prove you have a financial interest and you have a part in the child's life."
Martinez is circulating a petition in support of the Robert Martinez Bill. She hopes to collect a million signatures, then lobby her bill at the next legislative session in 2005.
If you would like to lend your support to the Robert Martinez Bill, contact Maria Martinez at (806) 866-4980.