$1,250,000: Father of Two Killed When Defendant Drove Them Both Home While Heavily Intoxicated

CASE DESCRIPTION:

On the day of the collision, November 6, 2011, at approximately 5:00 p.m., David W. and Michael H. went to Angels Sports Bar in Corona in Michael H.’s vehicle. At approximately 8:00 p.m., the bar manager called a taxi for David W. so that he could travel home safely. However, Michael H. told the manager that he would care for and assume responsibility for David W.

Both the bar manager and security guard believed that Michael H. was too intoxicated to drive and took possession of the keys to his vehicle. They explained that a safe ride had been called. Michael H. then assured the security guard that he and David W. would wait for the taxi inside the warmth and comfort of his truck and claimed that he would not drive. Michael H. asked for his keys back and the bar security guard obliged. With David W. seated inside the vehicle, Michael H. made the reckless decision to drive while intoxicated.

From Angels Sports Bar, Michael H. drove his vehicle westbound on Sixth Street and made a left turn onto southbound Main Street. Heavily intoxicated, he drove up and over the raised curb of the center median on Main Street and slammed into a tree. The force of the collision caused the vehicle’s airbags to deploy. A nearby witness ran to the vehicle and found Michael H. staggering around the vehicle, leaning against it to support himself from falling down. This good Samaritan found David W. unconscious with severe head trauma and facial bleeding.

David W. was rushed from the scene of the accident to Corona Regional Medical Center via ambulance to treat for his injuries. He suffered a skull fracture, severe head trauma, fractures to his right femur, and right arm. In a coma from his injuries caused by the accident, David W. was later transported to Riverside Community Hospital Trauma Center and placed on life support. He remained in a coma for two days until his death on November 8, 2011.

David W. was legally divorced at the time of the incident and is survived by his two children.

CASE NOT FILED

FINAL RESULT:

$1,250,000 (Policy Limits)

PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS AS TO LIABILITY:

Michael H. admitted liability for the collision with his guilty plea in the criminal case. The detailed police investigation also found Michael H. at fault for the accident and concluded that he violated the following California Vehicle Code Sections:

  • Section 23152(a) (driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs);
  • Section 23152(b) (driving a vehicle with 0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol in his blood);
  • Section 22107 (failure to turn a vehicle left or right with reasonable safety and after the giving of an appropriate signal);
  • Section 22350 (driving a vehicle upon a highway at a greater speed than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather and visibility and at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property);
  • Section 23153(a) (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and concurrently committing an act forbidden by law or neglecting any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle which causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver); and
  • Section 23153(b) (driving a vehicle with 0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol in his blood and concurrently committing an act forbidden by law or neglecting any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle which causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver).

DEFENDANT’S CONTENTIONS AS TO LIABILITY:

Defendant admitted liability.

TYPE OF CASE:

Wrongful Death

DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT:

November 6, 2011, at Intersection of Main Street with Stan Reynolds, Corona, CA

COUNTY:

Riverside

DECEDENT’S AGE:

48 at time of death

DECEDENT’S OCCUPATION:

Project Superintendent

PLAINTIFFS’ ATTORNEYS:

Michael A. Penn, Esq.

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