Authored by Sansone Law staff member, Erin Mace.
I was pursuing some news sites relating to personal injury and came across this tragedy. Two young men, 16 and 20 years of age, were walking home from a birthday party and were fatally struck by a drunk driver.
The “adults” overseeing the birthday party chose to allow the teens to drink alcohol. The boys made the choice to break the law and drink. The drunk driver had just stolen a car from a deli around the block. The owner of the stolen car had left the car running to hurry in the deli, get his sandwich and leave. It was a night of bad decisions that culminated in two deaths. The drunk driver, who incidentally has a rap sheet a mile long, was laughing when he was picked up a block from the incident.
The parents of the 16 year old have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against not only the drunk driver who hit the teen and the parents who hosted the birthday party but also the man whose car was stolen.
One of the many lessons I am learning while working at this St Louis personal injury law firm is that just because you are emotionally hurt or angry – even justifiably so – that does not mean the source of that anguish was an illegal action. I am in complete agreement with holding the parents who held the party responsible, assuming the kids intoxication contributed to the incident, they are legally responsible. I am definitely in complete agreement with holding the drunk driver responsible. I think we can all agree on this one. However, I believe it is a stretch to try and hold the owner of the stolen car responsible. I’m not sure how the owner of the vehicle could have had any foreseeable knowledge of the evening’s outcome from leaving his car running outside a deli. This guy was actually the only one who did not commit a crime that night – but he is getting sued. I find it ironic that the parents of the victims place no responsibility on their own son who blatantly broke the law and instead chose to place even a small amount of blame on a guy that just wanted a sandwich. Talk about laughable lawsuits. Out of the four articles I read on this tragedy, not once did the parents even hint that their son’s decision had an impact on that evening. They are angry and sad and want to make everyone pay - and they got some bad legal advice. As far as the drunk driver goes – he was just selfish. He selfishly put the lives of more than just two teenagers at risk by choosing to operate a vehicle drunk. Perhaps if he would not have been let off of the countless other crimes he committed, he would not have even been there to kill those two kids.
Morals of the story: If you choose to break the law, prepare to suffer the consequences and not blame other people. Simon and Garfunkel were dead wrong. No one is a rock or an island to themselves. Everyone’s choices and actions affect those around you - even those of us that have no desire to be affected by your choices or actions. Finally, if your loved one is injured or killed hold the true liable party responsible. Contact a good attorney that specialized in wrongful death and can distinguish who is legally at fault.
St Louis personal injury lawyer Ben Sansone's comments on Erin's article:
I understand that it may be confusing why a personal injury lawyer filing a wrongful death case would add a party like the owner of the stolen car above. However, in tragic incidents like this there is sometimes little or no insurance coverage. I am willing to bet the drunk driver has few assets, hopefully he at least had auto insurance. I believe the personal injury lawyer in this drunk driving wrongful death case is properly representing his client by initially investigating and naming all parties that may be responsible. I am sure that the family and the attorney have no interest in punishing the car owner and would almost certainly never attempt to collect over and above his insurance policy limits. If the facts all come down that the owner was simply was getting a sandwich, any competent insurance defense lawyer will ultimately get the case dismissed or prevail at trial.