Beebe and O'Neil

Town of East Haven found liable for injured man's medical bills

Sometimes people who have been injured by a drunk driver are baffled to see that same driver avoid what would seem like due punishment in criminal court. Connecticut residents should remember, though, that seeking justice in civil court is also an option after an injurious auto accident.

A man who was injured in an East Haven crash recently received a favorable verdict in a liability lawsuit he brought against a former police officer and the town of East Haven. According to the lawsuit, the officer failed to arrest an intoxicated driver who later hit the victim as he was trying to get into his own vehicle.

The initial complaint states that the officer knew the man who was allegedly intoxicated. The officer reportedly drove the man home and did not impound the man's cargo van. Additionally, the van was fitted with another vehicle's license plates, and the driver didn't have a license or insurance.

According to the complaint, after being dropped off at his residence, the driver returned to the van, continued to drive and then hit the victim.

The driver was arrested the next day, and he eventually pleaded no contest to third-degree assault and evading responsibility. Although the man was not convicted of being intoxicated while driving, the victim's lawsuit claimed that the driver was under the influence when the collision occurred.

A Superior Court jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him $12.2 million in compensation for damages. He suffered severe injuries as a result of the crash, according to the lawsuit. The town of East Haven was found liable for the plaintiff's injuries, and the verdict is meant to cover the injured man's financial losses and medical expenses resulting from the accident.

The case goes to show that a criminal conviction for intoxicated driving is not necessary for an injured party to bring his or her own civil case against a driver who was believed to be intoxicated.

Source: FOX CT, "Jury Awards $12.2 Million Verdict Against Town Of East Haven," Dec. 12, 2013

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