Authorities in upstate New York were unable to prevent a wrong-way car crash that seriously injured two people.
State police received word from a witness that a vehicle was travelling the wrong way on 590 North near State Route 104 in Monroe County, New York. A few minutes later, the wrong-way driver, 32-year-old Charles Dalberth, collided head-on with 27-year-old Munjid Alharthy. Both victims were trapped inside their vehicles, and firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate them. Both men were transported to nearby hospitals, but they are expected to survive.
Officers did not immediately speculate as to the cause of the crash, but Mr. Dalberth was arrested and charged with DUI along with several other offenses; he also had an outstanding warrant from the City of Canandaigua for criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The law in this area is a bit unsettled, with some courts requiring “reckless and wanton” conduct while others use a standard of “reckless or wanton.” The New York Pattern Jury Instructions, which are used with little or no modification in most tort cases, further require that the defendant’s conduct “border on criminal” and demonstrate “the intent to interfere with [the plaintiff’s] rights.”
Some fact patterns that may support a punitive damage award include:
- Wrong Way Driving: As opposed to a head-on collision, which typically means that the defendant suddenly veered into oncoming traffic, wrong way crashes usually involve drivers that operated on the wrong side of the road for several minutes or even longer.
- High BAC Level: As a rule of thumb, a BAC of more than about .20 indicates that the defendant had been drinking heavily and was well aware that driving would be very dangerous.
- Criminal Charge: Vehicular manslaughter and related charges involve a criminal intent to harm other drivers.
Punitive damages are nearly always awarded in mass tort cases, like the ones involving defective medical devices and other faulty consumer products.
Extreme misconduct often leads to additional damages. For a free consultation with attorneys who fight for victims, contact our office. A lawyer can arrange for a doctor’s appointment, even if you have no money and no insurance.