Earlier this month a driver from Clay County, Missouri, plead guilty to careless and imprudent driving after a sneezing attack led to her hitting and killing another motorist. Police say the woman hit the other driver head-on after drifting out of her lane. There is a defense to negligence based on a sudden and unexpected medical condition, such as a seizure or a heart attack that causes you to loose control. But a sneeze? Probably not a good defense to a Missouri wrongful death action; especially if the driver pleads guilty to criminal charges which is an admission of the negligent act.
The accident in question occurred back in November (which we previously discussed here) of last year when Brady hit Laura McClendon, killing her and paralyzing her two-year-old son. The accident took place just outside of Smithville, MO and occurred when Brady began having a sneezing attack. The sneezing caused her to lose control of her vehicle, crossing the centerline of the narrow road. She eventually drifted far enough over the line and that she struck McClendon's vehicle head-on.
Brady now faces up to 18 months in jail and a fine of $1,500. Brady has not yet been sentenced, authorities say that will happen later in June. It's a terrible price to pay for the victims and the driver, all because of a careless sneezing fit.
Police took the deadly accident as an opportunity to remind drivers about the importance of maintaining control over your vehicle, emphasizing how even momentary lapses, like this one, could lead to disaster. Officers said that if a driver starts sneezing it is critical that they continue to control the car. Attorneys say that Brady could have easily slowed her car down or pulled over until her sneezing episode subsided.
The family of McClendon has now filed a wrongful death suit against Brady. It's important to understand that in Missouri, individuals can file suit against negligent parties who have caused them harm regardless of whether criminal charges are being pursued. Despite Brady's prosecution and even potential jail time, the McClendon's family is still permitted to file suit for civil compensation. In fact, her plead of guilty to the careless and imprudent driving can and will be used in the civil auto crash case to prove it was her fault.
Another unfortunate bit of news came from the police who said that Brady had no insurance at the time of the deadly accident. In Missouri, and most other states, the law requires the owner of a motor vehicle to have it insured before operating it on state roadways. Sadly, many people decide to disobey this requirement and drive without proper insurance.
If you are ever involved in an accident and the other driver has no insurance, then you will be forced to make what is known as an uninsured motorist claim against your car insurance policy. Everyone in Missouri is required to carry a minimum of $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage in case such an accident does occur. Once you file a UM claim, your insurance company steps in to take the place of the negligent driver and can be held liable for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Though this is welcome news for the family of the woman killed in the accident, $25,000 does not go very far. There are countless situations where clients wished they carried more than $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. Given the potential harm that can result in such uninsured driver accidents, it's a good idea to carry the maximum uninsured motorist coverage allowed under your policy.
If you or someone you know has a loved one who has been seriously or fatally injured in any kind of accident due to the negligence of another party, you do have options to receive compensation for this loss. For information on how to protect your rights in a situation of negligence or wrongful death, please call one of the St. Louis Missouri car accident attorneys at (314) 863-0500 today or contact us online.
Source: "Driver Guilty of Careless Driving After Sneezing While Driving Fatality," by Kathryn Brady, published at Yahoo.com.
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