Accidents are an unavoidable but often preventable consequence of driving any motor vehicle. Each year, however, motorists in Alabama and across the nation choose to gravely endanger millions of lives, including their own, by making the choice to drive while impaired by a controlled substance. Be it alcohol or Ambien, Codeine or cocaine, the influence of a drug can turn even a driver who is usually skilled and defensive into a speeding, erratic lethal weapon.
Earlier last week a Madison County jury awarded a very sizeable sum, $13 million all told, to the family of an Alabama woman who was killed in an accident on account of another driver's irresponsibility. Struck in 2009 when a driver impaired by Xanax and prescription methadone ran a red light, the Huntsville-area woman had been a graduate student in psychology at the University of Alabama, and had obtained her undergraduate degree from Auburn University.
The driver who struck the woman is already serving prison time for a manslaughter conviction tied to the accident. He will now be held responsible for providing the victim's family with punitive damages in payments that will likely extend his punishment for the rest of his life.
Finding a positive resolution to his daughter's tragic story, the victim's father plans to use the $13 million to set up an education fund in his daughter's name at Auburn University. While the accident claimed her life and no financial award can turn back the clock, her memory may come to better the lives of Alabama students for decades to come.
The large size of this Huntsville accident's wrongful death verdict is but another reassurance that there are indeed means to recoup some lost connection when a loved one is lost in a car accident. Even if a criminal conviction has been reached, punitive damages can provide victim's family with some financial comfort, while reasserting to negligent drivers everywhere that their actions have serious consequences.
Source: WTVY, "Ala. Family Awarded $13 million in Car Accident," Dec. 4
• A fatal car accident can often leave a family unsure of where to turn. For more information about options follow a deadly wreck, feel free to visit our Huntsville wrongful death page.