Drunk Driving Crash Kills Teenage Girl in Elk Grove
I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. An accident in Elk Grove on July 15 resulted in the death of a local teenager. The crash happened along Elk Grove Boulevard close to Adams Street when the car she was riding in was struck by another vehicle. One teen died as a result of the accident and was identified as Breante Whitaker, age 15. She would have turned 16 next month. A GoFundMe site has been set up to help pay for her funeral and burial expenses. I want to extend my prayers and sympathy to the family and friends of this young girl in their time of sorrow.
According to Elk Grove police, Whitaker was riding in a car with three others when the collision occurred. Two people in that vehicle were injured in the crash and transported to a hospital for evaluation and treatment. Whitaker died at the hospital, and there has not been any further information on the other individual who was hospitalized. Officers who arrived at the scene of the accident said that the driver of the vehicle that hit the car showed signs of impairment. He was identified as Austin Crownover, 27, and a resident of Elk Grove. Authorities had Crownover perform a field sobriety test at the crash site, where he was reported as doing poorly. He was arrested at the scene of the accident on charges of drunk driving and taken to jail where he was being held without bail.
Drunk Drivers Take Lives
Drunk drivers killed 10,497 people in 2016. Of all fatal accidents, drunk driving accounted for 28 percent, which is roughly one death in a span of 50 minutes. Seventeen percent of the 1,223 children 14-years old and under who died in 2016 were killed by a drunk driver. The problem of drunk driving is vast with approximately 111 million drivers reporting that they drove while drunk.
Who Drives Drunk?
In repeated surveys of drunk driving accidents in the United States, young people account for the highest number of drunk drivers. Twenty-seven percent were age 25 to 34 while 26 percent were 21 to 24. Drivers who were previously convicted of driving under the influence were 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a drunk driving accident, particularly a fatal one.
The Effects of Alcohol on Drivers
The effect alcohol has on drivers begins before they reach a blood alcohol concentration that is considered illegal. Nationally, a BAC level of 0.08 percent is considered drunk driving. Take a look at what happens at varying BAC levels:
- 0.02 percent: This reflects the BAC a person would have after two drinks. He or she would have difficulty tracking a moving object such as another vehicle. Multitasking would be considerably harder to do.
- 0.05 percent: This BAC level reflects drinking three alcoholic beverages. In addition to the problems listed above, the person would have difficulty with coordination and steering. He or she would not be able to respond adequately to emergency situations.
- 0.08 percent: At this level, concentration and memory are significantly affected. It becomes problematic to process information, so seeing another vehicle turn on their signal lights would be meaningless. Controlling speed is difficult.
Wrongful Death in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Wrongful death in California is common. When a loved one dies in an accident that was caused by negligence, the family may be able to collect fair compensation for the wrongful death. This includes compensatory and noneconomic damages such as the following:
- Lost wages and lifetime earning capacity
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and other noneconomic losses
If the decedent lived for a period before dying, a survival action can be filed. This reflects the personal injury that the person experienced before dying. Since this personal injury survives the person’s death, it is filed by the family on behalf of the individual. This lawsuit covers the medical bills accumulated while the person was alive and even punitive damages against a drunk driver. Punitive damages are a way of punishing the wrongdoer with the hope that it will never happen again.
Punitive Damages in a Survival Action
There are certain instances in which punitive damages may be awarded in California. When DUI is determined to be the reason for an accident and resulting death, the surviving members of the family may be able to claim punitive damages for an egregious loss. This is because DUI resulting in death is a felony and may be charged as either vehicular manslaughter resulting in a death, gross vehicular manslaughter or DUI murder. In order to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter, the defendant (drunk driver) must be shown to have committed the following acts:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of a collision.
- The driver committed an additional act such as driving above the speed limit or running a stop sign.
- The actions of the driver were negligent.
- The negligence of the intoxicated driver was responsible for the other individual’s death.
Related Article by Elk Grove Personal Injury Lawyer Ed Smith
Elk Grove Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, an Elk Grove personal injury lawyer. If you or a member of your family is harmed by a drunk driver, you have the right to be compensated for your loss. If you need compassionate, friendly and free advice about what to do in this situation, call me at (916) 694-0002 in Elk Grove and (800) 404-5400 outside of the area. You can contact me online if that is easier for you.
I am a long-standing member of the Million Dollar Advocates. We are a forum of trial attorneys who have negotiated a settlement or won a verdict in excess of $1 million for a client.
When you need a lawyer, you want to know about their practice before retaining them. You can check my practice out by looking at reviews from former clients and my peers and reviewing settlements and verdicts for prior clients on the following pages:
Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/drink-driving-drunk-alcohol-808790/
:cd [cs 1092] cv