Many of you may remember the heartbreaking story of the death of an 18-year old dance team member at UNLV in 2009. Lindsay Bennett, who was a member of the school’s Rebel Girl squad, was killed by a drunk driver traveling the wrong way on an Interstate 215 exit ramp. Vladimir Legerev reportedly had a blood alcohol content of .20 when he crashed head-on into Bennett’s car.
This week, Lagerev received the maximum sentence from a Clark County District Court judge. The now 47-year old Ukranian immigrant will spend the next 8 to 20 years in prison for his actions. There were some other less-publicized parts of the sentence handed down by Judge Jessie Walsh. In addition to his incarceration, Lagerev must also pay a $5,000 fine as well as restitution costs of $18,368 to Bennett’s family.
Some people may be confused about this latter sum, especially in light of how this blog discusses large settlements or judgments in wrongful death cases. The $18,368 is court-ordered restitution which will be paid by Lagerev to the family. The idea behind restitution is to reimburse the recipients for any previously-incurred financial costs related to the criminal act.
But since it is part of the sentence issued by a criminal court, it is not related to any civil court proceedings or verdicts which may occur in the future. Therefore, the Bennett family can still choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Lagerev in a civil court if they choose to do so. Wrongful death judgments encompass not only reimbursement for financial costs, but also compensation for lost future wages, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. These costs are not addressed by court-ordered restitution (although restitution amounts are often deducted from civil court judgments so the plaintiffs are not effectively reimbursed twice for the same costs).
If a wrongful death lawsuit is indeed filed in this case, be sure to check this blog for news on how it is progressing.