Recently in Wrongful Death Category

Semi-truck driver sued for wrongful death after striking bicyclist, leaving scene

February 4, 2013

1102344_cross_over.jpgIn 2011, car accidents caused 32,667 deaths nationwide, including 786 deaths that occurred here in Missouri. As Springfield personal injury lawyers, we know that the aftermath of a fatal car accident is a traumatic, overwhelming time. When someone is killed as a result of another driver's negligence, fault, or misconduct, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party.

Recently, a Massachusetts family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a semi-truck driver who struck and killed a bicyclist in 2012. According to the Boston Globe, the suit was brought by the widow of 41 year-old Alex Motsenigos, who was training for a triathlon when he was hit by the semi and pulled under the vehicle. Authorities say the truck driver, 51 year-old Dana McCoomb, drove away following the collision. When McCoomb was later located by police, he said he heard about the accident but denied that he struck anyone.

The wrongful death lawsuit names McCoomb, his employer, and the company that owned the truck he was driving. It alleges that McCoomb was driving recklessly on the day of the accident, labeling him an "extremely dangerous driver who should not have been behind the wheel of a truck." McCoomb reportedly has a lengthy history of driving offenses: since 1982, his license has been suspended 19 times, and he was required to enroll in a National Safety Council driver retraining program in 2010. His license was ultimately revoked after the accident involving Motsenigos. In a statement, the Motsenigos family claims that "if the truck driver had used even basic care in operating the truck that struck Alex down, the accident would have been avoided and Alex would be alive today."

The lawsuit was filed about a week before a grand jury declined to indict McCoomb on charges of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, unsafe overtaking of a bicyclist, and failing to take precautions for the safety of other travelers.

A wrongful death claim is a civil action, completely separate and independent from any criminal charges associated with a death. When someone dies as a result of another individual's negligence or misconduct, certain surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for their losses and damages, which may include:

• Medical and burial expenses
• The deceased's future lost wages
• The deceased's lost benefits (insurance, pension, 401K, etc.)
• Loss of care or companionship
• Pain and suffering

Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within a specific time period, known as the statute of limitations. If you have lost a family member in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, we encourage you to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights.

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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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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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Young Driver Faces 15 Years in Prison for Drunk Driving Car Accident in Springfield, Missouri

An involuntary manslaughter charge from a drunk driving accident that happened four years ago could land a Springfield man behind bars for as many as 15 years, according to The News-Leader. The jury recently handed him a guilty verdict, he only awaits the scheduled sentencing now.
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The 23-year-old driver was convicted by a jury late last month, according to the Greene County Prosecutor's Office. The jury reported to have deliberated the case for approximately three hours before concluding that the young driver was guilty of the Springfield car accident.

Our Springfield Missouri car accident attorneys understand that drunk driving oftentimes result in serious consequences -- including death. Not only is the act of driving while intoxicated illegal, it's also extremely dangerous. Drunk driving places the lives of all motorists in peril. Residents are asked to practice logical decision making before a night on the town to help prevent getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol.

The young driver had been placed on probation for leaving the scene of that accident and had also had a subsequent conviction for driving under the influence.

The accident happened back in November of 2007. The driver measured a blood alcohol content of 0.146 at the time of the accident near the intersection of Weller Avenue and Dale Street.

The driver that was hit by the drunk driver reported suffered a "cardiac event" before rolling into the intersection. The intoxicated driver, who was speeding at the time of the accident, collided with the other vehicle.

The other motorist died as a result of his injuries from the intersection accident.

The young, intoxicated driver faces a minimum of five years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. His maximum penalty is 15 years behind bars. The man remains in Greene County jail until his sentencing that is scheduled for August.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were nearly 11,000 people killed in car accidents that involved a driver impaired by alcohol in 2009. These accidents made up more than 30 percent of all traffic accidents in the United State during that year.

In these fatal accidents, drivers ages 21 to 24 represented the age group with the highest percentage of drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. Nearly 2,000 drivers from this age group were involved in motor-vehicle accidents while driving legally drunk during 2009.

Missouri saw nearly 300 motor-vehicle accident fatalities caused by intoxicated drivers in 2009.

Missouri Drunk Driving Fines and Penalties (for nonfatal, first offenses):

-Fines: up to $500.

-Jail: up to 6 months.

-License Suspension: 30 Days Full Suspension.

-License Reinstatement Fee: $45 .

-Missouri SR22 Insurance Requirement (Proof of Insurance).

-Ignition Interlock Device Possible

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