Spaulding Jury Awards Parents $5.5 Million in Head-On Crash Caused by Drugged Driver
Drug and alcohol impaired driving can have a devastating impact on many lives, including the accident victim, the impaired driver and both of their families. The spike in prescription drug abuse in the United States has increased the risk of collisions caused by drugged drivers. According to SAMHSA's National Survey of Drug Use and Health, 10.2 million people reported driving under the influence of a drug taken for non-medical reasons during a 12 month period. When drivers elect to take the risk associated with drugged driving, they can be subject to punitive damages for injuries or fatalities they cause in traffic accidents.
One of the largest Georgia jury verdicts of 2012 was a wrongful death case involving a drugged driver. The parents of a teenage boy, Zachary Williamson, brought a wrongful death claim after their 15-year-old son died in a crash caused by a drugged impaired driver. The teenager was a passenger riding in the backseat of his friend's Jeep Wrangler. The defendant was traveling in the opposite direction and crossed the center of the road. The vehicle driven by the defendant struck the Jeep head-on causing it to roll. Zachary suffered roof crush injuries to his chest and reportedly died within minutes of the collision.
An investigation following the accident revealed that the defendant tested positive for Oxycodone, Xanax and marijuana. He pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI drugs in a criminal case that preceded the civil lawsuit for damages. During the civil trial, testimony indicated that the defendant was returning from a trip to purchase the drugs when he struck and killed Zachery. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant was operating the motor vehicle while impaired by drugs at the time of the collision. The Spaulding County jury returned a verdict against the alleged drugged driver in the amount of $5,562,760.
There are a number of important takeaways from this case aside from the tragic consequences of driving while impaired by drugs. While Zachery and his family are the most obvious victims, the other driver's loved ones also will suffer because of the financial and emotional impact resulting from civil and criminal liability of their family member. These accidents are particularly tragic because the emotional, physical and financial impact suffered by the individuals and families involved is entirely preventable.
From a legal point of view, drug impaired crashes that are the subject of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit often involve both a criminal case and a civil lawsuit. The civil lawsuit will often follow the criminal case because the evidence of DUI drugs and vehicular homicide established in the criminal case typically will be used to prove negligence in the civil lawsuit. Further, the conduct proven in the criminal case might also support punitive damages.
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If you or your loved one is injured or a family member dies in a crash caused by a drugged driver, our experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast for over thirty years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.