$1.5 Million Paid For Drunk Driving

As in the O. J. Simpson case, we must often depend on the civil tort system for justice when criminal prosecution fails. Such was the situation for the family of John Doe, who was killed by a drunk driver in Ponte Vedra, Florida, last year.

Fifteen-year-old John was spending the night with a friend when he borrowed a bike to ride next door at 2:30 a.m. to get clean clothes he had left there. He sustained severe head trauma and died instantly when struck from behind by a car driven by a drunk driver.

The drunk driver drove a mile down the road before returning to the scene. According to witnesses, she said she would not have returned if she had known she had hit John.

The drunk driver had a blood alcohol level of .063. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst extrapolated that the drunk driver's blood alcohol level would have been between .083 and .103 at the time of the crash. The investigating officer thought the driver was drunk and should be prosecuted, yet the state attorney's office decided it did not have enough evidence to meet the high burden of proving guilt "beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt," as required in a criminal prosecution.

John's parents could not let the drunk driver escape responsibility. They insisted the insurance company pay every penny available for what she did.

The insurance company at first said it would not pay the limits because the bike had no reflector and John did not wear a helmet and was out so late.

Pajcic & Pajcic argued that the drunkenness of the driver made all of that irrelevant under Florida law. The limit of $1.5 million was paid.

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