The most dangerous types of car crashes, head-on collisions, are caused by the increased impact of two cars colliding with each other, often at high speeds. Although only 2 percent of car crashes are head-on, they account for over 10 percent of traffic fatalities. Add a multiple-count DUI, and you have a tragedy.
Last month, a Tolleson, AZ man hit another passenger vehicle in a head-on collision here in Nevada, killing three people and injuring two others. The man, 32-year old Tyler Kennedy, was arrested on charges of
- DUI resulting in death – 3 counts
- DUI result in substantial bodily harm – 2 counts
- Reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm – 5 counts
- Possession of a controlled substance – 1 count
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – 1 count
- Failure to drive on the right side of the road – 1 count
- Driving with a canceled driver’s license – 1 count
- No seatbelt – 1 count
The crash, which occurred on March 27, happened when Kennedy, driving a Ford F-150 pickup traveling north on U.S. 95 near Scotty’s Junction, crossed the center line and hit a 2011 Toyota Highlander, headed south, head-on.
The driver of the Toyota, Michael Durmeier, his fiance, Lauren Starcevich, and his daughter, Georgia Durmeier, were killed. Two other children were injured in the crash.
The Consequences of a DUI Causing Death or Substantial Harm
In Nevada, when an individual is convicted of a DUI that has resulted in death or substantial injury, it is a class B felony punishable in state prison from 2 to 20 years with significant fines. It is a non-probational offense meaning that the individual who is found guilty must go to prison.
Unfortunately, a prison sentence does nothing for the survivors and loved ones of the people who were killed in the crash. In this case, there are two small children who are injured and who also no longer have their parents. There will be substantial medical bills, funeral bills, and other costs that will have to be absorbed by family members.
The Difference Between Criminal Charges and Civil Liability
Tragedies such as this accident forever impact the surviving family members. Not only are they left to cope with the loss of their loved ones, but they must find a way to care for the survivors while additionally navigating the financial burden that is left in the aftermath.
In these cases, a civil lawsuit may be brought against the impaired driver by members of the family. While the criminal charges protect “society” from that individual, a civil lawsuit can seek compensation for the surviving family members for specific damages.
Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death claims are specifically designed for these types of incidents. Certain family members or a representative for the family can bring civil injury claims on behalf of a deceased family member.
While a wrongful death claim will never bring back a loved one, it can ease some of the emotional and financial consequences of the drunk driver’s negligence and can offer some sense of justice while holding the negligent individual accountable for their actions. Punitive damages can be awarded in egregious cases.
Consulting a Wrongful Death Attorney
Although it is unknown what Kennedy’s fate will be, or the surviving family members, we see how drunk driving continues to impact our state, despite the consequences and our best efforts at keeping it under control.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a drunk driving accident, getting the legal advice of a skilled attorney is essential. Contact the wrongful death attorneys at LV Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to understand your legal rights.