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Drunk Driver Kills D.C. Pedestrian

Posted on July 1, 2017

A tortfeasor (negligent driver) faces multiple criminal charges after her vehicle hit and killed a man on the sidewalk.

Police say the wreck happened on 22nd Street SE. 33-year-old Briana Miller, of Hyattsville, was apparently speeding when she crossed from the southbound to the northbound side of 22nd Street SE, hopped a curb, and slammed into 47-year-old Delane Scales, of Washington, D.C. Mr. Scales was pronounced dead at the scene.

Authorities charged Ms. Miller with involuntary manslaughter and DUI.

Pedestrian Injuries

Fatal vehicle-pedestrian collisions increased 11 percent last year to their highest number in twenty years. The fatality rate is so high, at least in part, because of exposed pedestrians, who have no crash helmets or steel cages or restraint systems for protection, suffer such severe injuries in these crashes, including:

  • Head Injuries: When pedestrians hit the ground, their heads often severe trauma. Moreover, the sudden and violent jarring motion alone is often enough to cause serious injury. Think about an egg yoke banging against the shell when someone shakes the egg.
  • Exsanguination: Severe blood loss, from both external and internal trauma injuries, means that many victims are on the verge of hypovolemic shock before emergency responders even arrive.
  • Crushed Chests: Pedestrian victims are often pinned between the tortfeasor’s vehicle and another fixed object, and the intense pressure is often more than the brittle ribs can absorb.

Damages in Maryland car wreck cases normally include compensation for tangible losses, such as medical bills, and intangible losses, such as pain and suffering. Punitive damages may be available as well, as outlined below.

Liability Issues

If the tortfeasor is charged with DUI, the negligence per se shortcut probably applies. Tortfeasors are negligent as a matter of law, in most cases, if:

  • The tortfeasor violated a safety law or statute,
  • The victim was among the people that the statute was designed to protect, and
  • The legal violation proximately caused the victim/plaintiff’s damages.

In some negligence per se cases, especially those that involve an extremely high BAC level or another similar aggravating factor the victim/plaintiff may be entitled to additional punitive damages. This money is available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the tortfeasor intentionally disregarded a known risk, and driving while extremely intoxicated arguably qualifies as such.

Even if the tortfeasor is not charged with DUI, the victim/plaintiff may still be able to establish negligence by circumstantial evidence, since impairment begins with the first drink. This evidence, such as bloodshot eyes and erratic driving, is usually insufficient to establish intoxication in criminal court. But largely because of the lower standard of proof, it is usually enough to establish impairment in civil court and therefore liability for damages.

Contact an Aggressive Attorney

Alcohol-involved collisions often cause serious injuries to pedestrians. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oxon Hill, contact The Law Office of William C. McCaskill, PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.

Contact us to speak with a Oxon Hill lawyer about a personal injury matter