An allegedly intoxicated motorist destroyed three vehicles and shattered countless lives at an intersection in Huntington Station on Long Island, New York.
According to prosecutors, Ryan Gurecki, a Lindenhurst NJ resident, said that he consumed at least five beers at his job before getting behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer. He was allegedly speeding when he slammed into a Ford Escape that was sitting at a stoplight on the Jericho Turnpike. The force of the collision propelled the smashed Escape into the middle of the intersection; the Explorer then careened across the road, sideswiped a Honda Odyssey, and crashed into a tree.
Karen Holden, a 56-year-old woman in the Explorer was killed; her husband and son were both transported to area hospitals, where they are attempting to recover from serious injuries. Friends later told officials that the family’s dog is also missing. At the time of the accident, the Holdens, who were only about 10 minutes from their house, were on their way to visit a relative serving in the military in Virginia.
After the fatal car accident, Gurecki allegedly failed field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement. The results of a blood draw are pending after Gurecki reportedly refused a breath test. A judge initially set Gurecki’s bail at $250,000 cash, largely because he is said to have a prior Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrest on his record.
First Party Liability in Alcohol Crashes
Many people do not know that a driver can “pass” a blood alcohol content (BAC) breath test or blood test and still be charged with DUI. That’s because a jury may still conclude that the person was legally intoxicated, which is the standard used in criminal court. The standard in civil court, however, is even lower. The plaintiff in a negligence case need only prove that the driver was impaired, which is not that difficult to establish because impairment can begin at one drink in most cases.
The burden of proof in civil cases and criminal cases is different as well. A prosecutor in a criminal case or traffic matter must establish intoxication beyond any reasonable doubt. By contrast, the plaintiff in a civil case of personal injury matter need only establish impairment by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not. Therefore, if there is evidence that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was drinking, the jury can probably conclude that, more likely than not, the tortfeasor was impaired.
There is usually a one-to-one relationship between the strength of the evidence and the amount of damages. So, if the tortfeasor flunked a BAC test or showed some signs of intoxication, like bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and unsteady balance, the plaintiff who sustained injuries in the DWI accident may receive a larger award.
Victims in alcohol crash cases are normally entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with aggressive personal injury attorneys, contact Proner & Proner today. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence matters.