Alcohol + Texting + Teens + Driving = Tragedy

Nearly three years ago, two Paris teens were killed and two others injured after the driver (one of those hurt) had been drunk and texting behind the wheel when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a cluster of trees. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, that driver has been convicted of two counts of manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crash and sentenced to 18 months in prison. Now 21 and the mother of a 1-year-old, she faced 30 years of incarceration on the manslaughter charges.

At trial, witnesses testified the driver was drunk when she arrived at the party. She continued to drink. She laughed off a crash that happened just a few hours earlier, when she was turning her car in circles in the driveway and slammed into a tree stump. She was drinking up until a half hour before the fatal crash. She refused to let anyone else drive the vehicle.

Our Bangor car accident lawyers understand parents of the teens who were killed were dissatisfied with the criminal punishment in the case. Of course, no sentence was going to bring their children back. However, the gravity of the loss warranted a greater penalty.

The survivor and families of the 16-year-old and 19-year-old killed may seek civil action in the form of a wrongful death lawsuit. However, the benefit of such action would need to be weighed in light of the kind of insurance the driver carried.

A young single mother without a college degree and a now with a felony record is unlikely to have much that is monetarily recoverable by the three other families. However, her (or her parents’) auto insurer likely would cover damages to a degree. If the insurer refused to pay the policy limits, that firm might be named defendant in the lawsuit.

Another method of recovery might be one’s own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage of the decedent’s parents. Even though they weren’t behind the wheel, the policy may cover them for such incidents. This is likely to be a viable option, considering even if defendant was insured her liability policy limits probably wouldn’t cover the extensive loss suffered by each of the three families involved.

There could also be the possibility of a Dram shop/social host liability action. The Maine Liquor Liability Act, codified in Maine Revised Statutes Title 28-A, Chapter 100 holds that either a licensee or non-licensee who negligently or recklessly provides alcohol to a minor under 21 or an intoxicated person may be held liable if that person goes on to cause harm to another. In this case, attorneys should look at how the minors obtained alcohol – where it was purchased, who served it, who was throwing the party, etc.

Dram shop/social host liability actions in Maine must be brought within 180 days of the incident. Damages for medical expenses under this law are unlimited, but all other damages are capped at a maximum $350,000.

If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Driver sentenced to 18 months for crash that killed two teens, Oct. 1, 2014, Staff CBS 13

Additional Resources:

Maine Car Accident Attributed to Older Driver’s Inattention, Sept. 26, 2014, Bangor Car accident Lawyer Blog

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