If we want to live in an orderly society, we must follow the law. It all seems simple enough. But what if the law breaker has a legitimate reason to, just as an example, drink more than she should before operating an automobile? Can’t we give her a break?
A Celebration Tragically Turned into a DUI Death
A woman was celebrating the anniversary of the remission of her breast cancer by drinking to her own health. She was not at fault in that. She was, however, at fault for then getting into her vehicle, driving down the road, and crashing into a man on a motorcycle while she was legally intoxicated. The man on the motorcycle died, but not before struggling to survive for two or more minutes – choking and eventually drowning in the blood from his lacerated lungs.
The widow of the decedent filed a wrongful death suit against the drunk driver, Beam v. Kingsley, 255 Ga. App. 715 (2002), asking that the court grant damages for the pain and suffering her husband had endured as a result of the woman’s negligence. At trial the jury awarded $1,416,000 in damages for the decedent’s life and $2,584,000 to his wife and his estate.
A Desperate And Sad Plea From the Defense
The defendant driver’s attorneys appealed the jury’s verdict as being excessive. They argued that the dead man’s funeral only cost $1,693.86 and that the man’s death was swift. He only suffered for one or two minutes and he might even have been unconscious during some of that time. Finally, they attempted to assert that the defendant’s reason for drinking should be taken into consideration. It seemed to be a suggestion that the woman’s victory over breast cancer should somehow excuse her from her negligent, willful, wanton behaviors.
Thanks to the judicial system in Georgia, overturning a jury’s verdict is not an easy thing to do. The law almost always defers to the wisdom of an ‘enlightened jury.’ It also works hard to place the blame for injury where it rightfully lies. This is how our orderly society is maintained
Of course, we rejoice with the woman whose bout with cancer is over. On the other hand, we recognize that one wife is now without her husband. We understand that this wife must surely be tormented by imagining his last horrific moments as he struggled to breathe with lungs that were torn to shreds by splinters of his own ribs.
When it comes to injuries inflicted upon the innocent by those who have been careless and negligent, the judicial system almost always finds the fair answer. It did in this case. The Court of Appeals upheld the jury’s verdict.
If you have been injured through the willful or wanton actions of others, call the Millar Law Firm, LLC today. Allow us to evaluate the facts in your case. Our broad experience in personal injury law gives us the edge you might need to recover what’s been lost to you.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above article is a factually-accurate case history of an actual previously litigated or settled Georgia case. The case was reported on in local media and/or legal reporting services and it was not handled by The Millar Law Firm. However, we think our current and prospective clients may find this information interesting and informative as the case is factually similar to cases our office routinely handles. Please be advised that The Millar Law Firm makes no guarantees your case will have a similar outcome, as past results and results of our firm or of other lawyers and law firms are not indicative of future performance.