November 2012 Archives

Parents sue driver, bar after daughter dies in drunk driving crash

November 28, 2012

file7631243897648.jpgA Texas couple has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with a drunk driving crash that killed their daughter on August 14, 2011. According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the lawsuit is being brought by Victor and Melissa Aguilar, whose daughter, 19 year-old Samantha Martinez, died in the single-vehicle accident. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the driver, 31 year-old Dr. David Gonzalez-Gibler, and the owner of the establishment that served him alcohol.

Authorities say Gonzalez-Gibler was speeding when he lost control of his vehicle and struck a guardrail, causing the car to flip over multiple times. Martinez, a passenger, was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Gonzalez-Gibler and another occupant, 18 year-old Dawnyelle Rios, both suffered injuries.

A blood test revealed that Gonzalez-Gibler's blood alcohol content was 0.14%, nearly twice the legal limit. About a month later, he was indicted on charges of intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter. His trial is scheduled to begin in December.

The Aguilars' lawsuit alleges that Martinez, Gonzalez-Gibler and Rios were drinking at Klusoz Martini Bar and Lounge in the hours before the crash. It accuses Klusoz employees of serving alcohol to the two women, who were underage, and to Gonzalez-Gibler, even after he was visibly intoxicated.

Wrongful death lawsuits and Missouri dram shop laws:

In most cases, Missouri law prohibits bars and restaurants from being held liable for the actions of their intoxicated patrons: our state follows the common law rule "that furnishing alcoholic beverages is not the proximate cause of injuries inflicted by intoxicated persons."

However, a Missouri wrongful death lawsuit can be brought "by or on behalf of any person who has suffered personal injury or death against any person licensed to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink for consumption on the premises when it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the seller knew or should have known that intoxicating liquor was served to a person under the age of twenty-one years or knowingly served intoxicating liquor to a visibly intoxicated person" (537.053 RSMo).

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Thanksgiving holiday travel in 2012: What to expect on Missouri roads

November 14, 2012

423560_thanksgiving_table.jpgThanksgiving is just around the corner, and many Missouri drivers are likely planning to travel to visit family and friends over the holiday. While Thanksgiving is a time for celebrating and giving thanks with loved ones, it can also be a dangerous time to hit the road. According to AAA, drivers should anticipate increased roadway traffic during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, which spans from Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25. This increase in traffic means that drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in auto accidents during the upcoming holiday.

Below, we've shared some information about what drivers can expect during Thanksgiving travel - and we've also included a few tips to help keep you and your family safe on the road.

AAA's Travel Forecast: Thanksgiving 2012

• Approximately 43.6 million Americans are expected to drive at least 50 miles from home during this year's Thanksgiving holiday. That's an increase of 0.7% compared to 2011 - but it's also 26% lower than the number of Americans who traveled by car in 2005, when holiday travel peaked, and 14% lower than 2007.

• Air travel is expected to decline again this year, with 3.14 million Americans expected to fly in 2012. About 3.2 million Americans traveled by plane over Thanksgiving 2011. Experts say this decline can be attributed to the economy and the expense of airline tickets: of Americans who plan to travel, about 90% are expected to drive instead of fly.

• Because of the recent drop in gas prices, traveling by car will likely cost less than many drivers had expected. Missouri and Kansas have recently experienced some of the biggest drops in the U.S., with prices declining more than 60 cents per gallon in the last few months. AAA expects the national average to be around $3.32 per gallon on Thanksgiving Day: by comparison, average gas prices are expected in be close to $3.04 in Kansas City, reports the Kansas City Star.

Staying Safe: A Few Holiday Travel Safety Tips

Be prepared. Make sure your vehicle is properly serviced and fueled up before you hit the road. Doing so could save you time - and stress - as you travel. Also, it's a good idea to pack an emergency kit with a few essential items (blankets, flashlights, water, etc.), just in case.

Allow plenty of extra time. With increased traffic on the road, don't be surprised if you encounter delays. Trying to rush through congested traffic can create ideal conditions for a crash, so you'll want to give yourself enough time to go slow and be patient.

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Woman charged with nine felonies, including homicide by drunk driving, following fatal crash

November 7, 2012

844622_speed_2.jpgA Wisconsin woman has been charged with nine felonies in connection with a drunk driving crash that killed two of her passengers and seriously injured a third. According to WSAW TV, 24 year Ashley Baumann is facing two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle; two counts of homicide with a prohibited blood alcohol content, two counts of homicide by negligent driving; one count of causing great bodily harm by drunk driving; and one count of reckless driving causing great bodily harm.

Prosecutors say one of Baumann's passengers, 29 year-old Jerrica Woller, had expressed fears about Baumann's dangerous driving only minutes before the tragic crash on June 7. Woller reportedly exited the vehicle at a stop sign and said she would not get back in the car unless Baumann promised to drive more safely. Then, around 3:30 a.m., investigators say Baumann was traveling at a high rate of speed when she lost control of the vehicle on a straight stretch of roadway. She subsequently ran off the road and crashed into a nearby field.

The vehicle rolled several times, ejecting its occupants. Two women riding in the backseat - 33 year-old Jessica Hartwig and 31 year-old Misty Gilsch - were pronounced dead at the scene. Baumann and Woller (who was riding in the front passenger seat) were also seriously injured in the crash.

Baumann's blood test - performed at the hospital about four hours after the accident - revealed that her blood alcohol content was 0.157%, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08%. And investigators determined that Baumann's car was at 100% throttle and traveling between 92 and 99 miles per hour in the moments immediately before the vehicle left the roadway and overturned.

The homicide charges connected to drunk driving offenses have the most serious potential consequences for Baumann, reports the Wausau Daily Herald: each count carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. In addition to the criminal charges, the family of Misty Gilsch has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baumann and her insurer.

Baumann is currently free on bond. She is due back in court for a preliminary hearing in December.

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