An allegedly intoxicated motorist pushed a scooter rider into oncoming traffic, where he was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver.
The collision occurred at the intersection of Russell Road and Rainbow Boulevard. Nineteen-year-old Adrian Arriaga-Andrade, who was operating a Toyota Sequoia, evidently failed to slow down and yield to a scooter that was in front of him; the Sequoia rear-ended the scooter and pushed it nearly 200 feet along Russell towards Rainbow. At that point, an unidentified motorist who may have been operating a Nissan Sentra slammed into the scooter, and immediately left the scene. The scooter operator – who was identified only as a man in his 40s or 50s – was transported to a local hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
Mr. Arriaga-Andrade was arrested for DUI manslaughter after he allegedly failed field sobriety tests.
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Fact Issues in Alcohol-Related Crashes
In criminal court, to obtain a DUI conviction, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was intoxicated; the proof must be so certain that the jury has no reasonable doubt as to the evidence. However, in civil court, the victim only needs to establish that the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was impaired; this proof must be by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not.
So, even if the tortfeasor is not arrested for DUI, a civil jury may still conclude that alcohol was a factor in the car crash. Furthermore, while intoxication means a loss of the normal use of mental and physical faculties, impairment typically begins at one drink.
If the tortfeasor breached the duty of care by operating a vehicle while impaired, damages normally include compensation for economic losses, like property damage, and noneconomic losses, like loss of enjoyment in life.
Legal Issues in Alcohol-Related Crashes
When there are multiple tortfeasors in a wreck, as there were in the above case, the two elements of cause are sometimes an issue.
Cause in fact is sometimes known as “but-for” causation, and it applies to both the tortfeasors. The victim would probably not have been hit if the Sequoia did not push the scooter into the intersection, and the rider probably would not have been killed if the unknown driver had not hit him. If both tortfeasors were involved in the case, the jury would divide the damages between them and each would have to pay his or her share.
Proximate cause is a matter of foreseeability. In many cases, courts require that there be a close relationship between the breach of duty and the injury, so under that standard, pushing the scooter into traffic may not satisfy the proximate cause requirement. But a broader standard often applies in alcohol-related cases, because some courts apply a broader “zone of danger” standard in these situations.
If hit-and-run drivers are identified, juries often award victims additional punitive damages, especially if alcohol is involved.
Reach Out to an Assertive Attorney
Alcohol-involved crashes often create complex factual and legal questions. For a free consultation with an experienced Las Vegas personal injury lawyer, contact Naqvi Injury Law today, because you have a limited amount of time to act.