Drunk driving continues to plague our country and state. This time, a drunk driver drove his vehicle into a troop of Boy Scouts on Sunday, September 30, 2018, just before 2:00pm. The accident occurred in Manorville, New York in Suffolk County on David Terry Road. According to a report by the Riverhead Patch, Boy Scout Troop 161 out of Shoreham, were hiking along the shoulder of the road, when Thomas Murphy of Holbrook drove into them in his 2016 Mercedes.
Five of the boy scouts were struck in this tragic accident, with a 12-year old Andrew McMorris of Wading River dying as a result. The 4 other boys were transported to area hospitals, with one of the boys having sustained serious injuries as a result. Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families as a result of this senseless and avoidable tragedy.
It is unfathomable as a parent to lose one’s child under these circumstances. Drunk driving continues to be a source of tragedy and outrage in our society, yet it keeps happening. From a legal perspective, victims and families of victims have civil legal recourse against the drunk driver, but that does not bring a loved one back nor does it fully heal the injuries sustained as a result. The criminal justice system seems to provide little deterrence as these types of accidents continue to occur.
The attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool, LLP have over 60 years of experience representing the victims and their families whose lives have been touched by drunk driving. Unfortunately, as lawyers are required to counsel, the law only provides that the victims will receive reasonable monetary compensation under the circumstances. Of course, no amount of money can adequately compensate a parent for the loss of their child. The best a civil attorney can hope to provide a family is some measure of justice and closure.
In order to have grounds for a lawsuit predicated on drunk driving, the victim of the accident must be able to prove that the drunk driver was directly responsible for the accident. In the instant case, it must be shown that the drunk driver was negligent in striking the Boy Scout Troop. It may sound obvious to any reasonable person, but that is what the law requires. Furthermore, the accident must have caused the victim to suffer either economic or non-economic damages. Economic damages are any financial loss sustained, such as lost wages, medical bills, or property damage. Non-economic damages are any long term pain and suffering incurred, such as scarring or emotional trauma. In this regard, New York law is often viewed as unfair when a child is killed due to negligence.
Often times, the victims are blamed, either completely or partially, for causing the accident. This is often a very dangerous and fine line to walk for the defense attorney and insurance company acting on behalf of the defendant in a drunk driving accident litigation. Nonetheless, it is something that experienced attorneys encounter regularly in this type of litigation. Due to the fact that accidents stemming from drunk driving often involve such serious injuries, the ensuing claim may result in high stakes litigation for an insurance company. Thus, if there is significant insurance coverage (for example 1 million dollars or more), the attorneys for the Defendant’s insurance carrier are often unlikely to concede the issue of liability. Prosecuting a serious drunk driving accident case is not a simple matter and requires knowledgeable and experienced attorneys to best represent a victim’s interests and needs in a case of that nature. It also requires an attorney who is able to truly understand the magnitude of the loss and who has the ability to convey the full measure of damages related to such a tragedy.