During a recent sentencing in criminal court, an Eau Claire man apologized for an accident he caused on July 20, 2012. After admonishing the man for his actions that day, the judge sentenced him to a prison term of 19 years for the DUI accident that led to the death of his friend and the critical injuries suffered by the passenger of another vehicle. Prior to his sentencing, the driver pleaded guilty to several charges in connection with the crash.

As was their usual practice, the convicted man and his friend stopped on that day at a tavern to cash their paychecks. After consuming a substantial amount of alcohol, the two intoxicated men were asked to leave the tavern because they were disturbing other customers. After recklessly driving through the streets of Eau Claire, the van slammed into the back of an SUV at a traffic signal, which then caused a chain reaction accident that ultimately involved seven vehicles.

The driver’s friend was killed in the accident. The passenger that suffered critical injuries still lives with physical pain from the injuries she suffered that day. She has so far had nine separate surgeries in an attempt to repair the damage done to her body and can no longer perform her professional duties as a pharmacist.

Any civil proceeding filed in connection with this DUI accident could seek to use proof of this man’s conviction as evidence of his negligence. Proving negligence could lead to an award of monetary damages to pay for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering for the seriously injured woman. Moreover, the surviving family of the deceased passenger may elect to assess the viability of pursuing a wrongful death claim against the now convicted driver. Any monetary award that might be achieved may be little consolation for the changes that the events of that day caused in the injured woman’s life, much like such an award can never bring back the driver’s friend to his family.

Source: twincities.com, Wisconsin man responsible for chain-reaction crash gets 19 years, Dan Holtz, Jan. 7, 2014