Spinal cord injuries can impact a person’s life forever, and a Pennsylvania man is now learning that. He was involved in a tragic drunk driving accident in October of 2012 that left him a quadriplegic. The victim was the passenger in a car driven by a longtime friend. According to police officers, the driver, whose blood-alcohol content was found to be 0.14, was traveling at 75 mph when he veered onto a sidewalk and struck both a utility pole and a traffic light.
The injuries to the passenger were so severe that the judge in the criminal case sentenced the driver to serve from three to 10 years behind bars for “aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence.” He would have also faced a three-year minimum sentence if the victim had died. As the judge explained to the defendant, “You did take his life. It was his doctors that saved him.” The passenger, who remained in a coma for a time after the accident, required months of rehabilitation.
During the trial, the defendant argued that the victim had also been drinking the night of the accident and had been too impaired to drive. Reportedly, the defense also mentioned that the victim had previous arrests for DUI. However, as the judge noted, the defendant was the one who got behind the wheel while under the influence.
It was not reported whether the victim and his family are pursuing civil litigation against the defendant. However, because of his spinal cord injury, he is confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic, and will no doubt need assistance with daily activities above and beyond medical treatment and rehabilitation. These things can add up to millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
It’s difficult for victims to put a price on not only the anticipated financial costs resulting from their injuries, but also the damages that they rightfully deserve for their pain and suffering. Ohio personal injury attorneys can help estimate reasonable damages and possibly present a case that could convince a judge or jury that the damages are warranted.
Source: The Express-Times, “Judge to drunken driver: 'You did take his life – it was his doctors that saved him'” Sarah Cassi, Jan. 07, 2014