A Pennsylvania man recently pleaded guilty to charges of homicide by vehicle while DUI and two less serious charges in the wake of a fatal car accident which occurred in January. Authorities alleged that the man’s blood-alcohol content was triple the legal limit at the time of the fatal accident. His drunk driving evidently caused a fatal collision when he drove through a stop sign at a high rate of speed.
His vehicle, traveling east at the time, struck a vehicle traveling south. The driver of the other vehicle survived, but her passenger was not so fortunate. The passenger of that vehicle was tragically pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
The driver who pleaded guilty to the drunk driving charges faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison relating to the most serious allegation. He will apparently remain free on bond until his actual sentencing hearing in October. While a guilty plea likely saves the state from added expenses, it may not bring much comfort to the surviving driver or the fatal accident victim’s family.
The survivor likely faces medical bills relating to her injuries, even though she survived the fatal accident. The Pennsylvania man who lost his life won’t have such medical expenses since he died at the scene, but he may have left financial hardship for any dependent family members left behind. For that reason, the law typically does allow for surviving relatives to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit against a driver if it can be shown that their actions or failure to act caused or contributed to a fatal car accident. Similarly, the seriously injured survivor retains the right to pursue a claim for personal injury on the same basis.
Source: GoErie.com, “Erie man pleads guilty in Jan. fatal DUI,” Ed Palattella, Sept. 5, 2012