You never get used to reading headlines like this: “Three Little Girls Orphaned in Newport Beach DUI Crash: Lawsuit Filed.” It is hard to believe that after years of publicity brought by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and other civic public relations campaigns, that drunk-driving accidents still occur. Now, they are on the rise once again.
In this particular case, the drunk driver was a 22-year-old who caused the collision with a car driven by the children’s parents. Both parents were killed. The 22-year-old is currently facing murder charges. His life is ruined, as well. According to reports, “The Newport Beach resident is charged with 2 counts of second-degree murder stemming from the December 8 crash that killed 27-year-old Henry Eduardo Soldano and his wife, 28-year-old Gabriella Andrade, both of Santa Ana. Their daughters, ages 1, 3, and 5, were hospitalized after the crash, but have since been released and are recovering from broken limbs ….” The girls’ attorney filed a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
When a drunk driver causes a collision, he/she receives multiple traffic citations. The police investigation generally fixes the cause of the accident for purposes of determining fault. Insurance companies generally will accept the findings of the investigating police officer. Likewise, if the matter proceeds to trial, the officer’s investigation will furnish most of the key details from the crash site, including witness statements, directions of travel, weather conditions, time of day and lighting, available traffic signals and traffic conditions. As an impartial observer, great weight is placed on the officer’s findings. In the case of drunk driving, a blood sample or breathalyzer test result will prove alcohol as a factor.
A wrongful death lawyer will want to investigate whether the impaired driver had been over-served at a local establishment. Bars, restaurants and lounges can be held liable under many states’ laws for overserving individuals when the individual leaves the premises and shortly thereafter is involved in an automobile accident.
Unfortunately, in many cases involving wrongful death claims, the impaired driver is woefully underinsured. In those instances, the wrongful death lawyer will look to the injured party’s own insurance policy to see if uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits are available. The final inquiry is into the actions of the impaired driver prior to the collision to determine whether he or she was acting in the course and scope of their employment at the time of the collision.
While the involvement of alcohol makes it easier to prove fault in an automobile accident, truck crash or other motor vehicle collision, it also might increase the amount of damages available to the victim. Damages are the harms and losses that an injured party can sue for. Harms and losses include lost wages, medical expenses and pain-and-suffering. In addition to these compensatory losses, punitive damages can be obtained to punish a drunk driver for engaging in dangerous behavior. You should consult with an attorney, like a wrongful death lawyer, from a law firm such as Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A. as soon as possible after a serious car accident to determine your rights.