Victoria Brinkley-Hunter, 57, was arrested by Sacramento police for felony hit-and-run as well as driving under the influence of alcohol. Ms. Brinkley-Hunter is accused of fatally injuries Phillip Montiero, 45, in a collision that occurred Thursday around 7:00 p.m. at the intersection of 24th Street and 45th Avenue. Ms. Brinkley-Hunter allegedly fled the scene of the accident, leaving the victim lying in the street suffering obvious injuries. Paramedics administered aid and transported Montiero to a local hospital, but he died of his injuries a short time later.
My heartfelt sympathies go out to the family of the victim of this terrible and senseless accident.
Motorcycle Fatalities are Often Hit-and-Runs
Motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians have a higher chance of being injured or killed in a hit-and-run accident than motor vehicle drivers. This may be because when a car crashes into another car, the damage is often so great the motorist cannot flee the scene. If a motorist strikes a pedestrian, bicycle rider, or motorcycle rider, however, it is more likely the car will be operable and the driver uninjured.
Alcohol also plays a large role in the phenomenon of hit-and-run accidents. A drunk driver is far more likely to flee the scene of an accident than a sober one. According to the National highway Traffic Safety Administration, as many as one in ten pedestrian accidents are hit-and-runs, and the number of drunk driving incidents overall can be as high as three out of four if the accident occurs late at night, when many pedestrians and motorcyclists are hit.
Criminal Negligence vs. Civil Liability
Many people assume that if a person is arrested for the crime of hit-and-run and drunk driving, that he or she will be held liable for the accident and forced to pay damages to the victim. This is not true. Criminal and civil cases are very different things and are adjudicated by different courts.
Criminal charges are brought when a person has committed a crime against an individual or society that requires punishment. Criminal courts can levy fines but cannot award pecuniary judgments to victims. They can require criminals to pay into a victim defense fund or make restitution for property losses. However, they cannot force a criminal to pay for pain and suffering or other intangible costs. A criminal court’s job is to convict criminals and send them to jail.
Civil courts, on the other hand, are designed for the adjudication of torts. Torts are acts that injure someone or damage private property. Any victim can bring a lawsuit in civil court to recoup losses sustained in a personal injury accident. Civil courts operate independently of criminal courts and judgments in either court are not dependent on those of the other.
What Will Happen In This Case?
The family of the deceased victim is now free to file a wrongful death suit against the driver, regardless of the outcome of her criminal trial. A Sacramento motorcycle accident attorney can help this family recover damages for the loss of their loved one.