Death comes to people in many strange ways. The man in this case was run over while lying in the middle of the road.
This reported case is very odd for a number of reasons. The main reason for this is that the victim was lying in the middle of the road; drunk but alive until the defendant ran over him and killed him. The defendant is a former state trooper, who, one would think, would have a higher degree of awareness about driving safely and would not leave the scene of the accident.
The trooper was off duty at the time of the accident, was in the car with his girlfriend, and heading home from a party when he struck and killed John Doe. For reasons only known to him, he chose to leave the scene and continue on his way home. His girlfriend did however speak to the police after the man was hit. Investigators on scene were able to determine the dead man had been alive prior to being hit and had a blood alcohol content of 0.20.
As it turned out, John Doe had a substantial record for alcohol offenses, including a two-year prison sentence for DWI, his third in four years. He had hit a 14-year-old girl on her bike in 2000 and an 11-year-old child in 2004. He stopped driving when he was let out of prison in 2006, likely figuring it was safer to walk home drunk to his wife and two small kids. It was a decision that cost him his life.
Other sheriffs that went to the trooper’s home to conduct interviews noted that the sheriff agreed to take an alcohol prescreening. It was determined he had not been drinking. Ultimately, after the investigation was complete, there were no criminal charges and the felony charge for leaving the scene of an accident was dismissed by a grand jury.
The reason the criminal charges were dismissed is that the district attorney indicated the purpose of the law is to ensure drivers who get into personal injury accidents call the police and admit their guilty by giving their name and contact information. The off duty trooper’s girlfriend did call them from the road and both met law enforcement at the trooper’s home later on.
Evidently, the interpretation of the statute does not outline, specifically, the amount of time a driver has to report the crash if there is no one at the scene to report to, and the law does not mandate a driver to remain at the scene if there is no one present to get into details about how a report should be made. While this may deal with the criminal charges, this does not mean the family of the dead man might not wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Would they be successful in filing a wrongful death lawsuit? It is likely that they would, given that it is hard to miss a body lying in the road when you are driving, given that the man was a trooper and subject to a higher standard of conduct and care and should not have fled the scene.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, do not wait to call an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Time is of the essence in cases like this, and in order to ensure all the relevant evidence is collected and understood in its proper context, your Atlanta personal injury lawyer needs to act fast.
Tim Anderson writes for Atlanta Personal Injury attorney, Stephen M. Ozcomert. The firm specializes in personal injury, malpractice, motorcycle accidents, and wrongful death. To learn more about Atlanta personal injury lawyer, Stephen M. Ozcomert, visit Ozcomert.com.