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On April 17, 2012, a drunk driver was speeding down Missouri Route 364, the Maryland Heights Expressway, collided with the rear of another vehicle causing the van he was driving to flip over several times before coming to a stop. The St Louis area drunk driving crash needlessly resulted in the death of several of the passengers. As usual, the drunk driver survived.

Just recently, drunk driving injury attorney Ben Sansone filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. See PETITION – St Louis DWI Wrongful Death Accident. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of the 17 year old female passenger and against the driver for compensatory and punitive damages in excess of 10 million dollars. The driver has not been criminally charged yet, however, we expect St Louis County to file felony charges in the near future.

The tragic deaths of the teenage passengers were reported by local news outlets:

KMOV: Teen dies after rollover wreck on Highway 364

STLToday.com: St. Charles man arrested for DWI in fatal crash in Maryland Heights

CBS News: Caseyville Man Killed In Hwy. 364 Crash

The Clayton personal injury firm of Sansone / Lauber routinely handles drunk driving related injuries from car accidents, bike accidents, and truck accidents. See Drunk driving law for recent blog article related to personal injury and drunk driving accidents. Contact us at (314) 863-0500 or online.

Aggressive pursuit of these cases is important for many reasons. The victims or their families need to be involved in the criminal process, through victim advocates and their personal lawyer, to make sure the State takes the victim’s interests into consideration when making major decision ont he handling of the criminal case. Additionally, drunk drivers often have low insurance limits, therefore, it is important to have an experienced DWI injury lawyer investigate additional sources of insurance through negligent entrustment or Missouri dram shop laws.

Case Example of why expert legal representation is required in these matters:

We currently represent a Wentzville biker that was struck and almost killed by a drunk driver. The driver was charged with DWI and failure to maintain a safe distance when passing a bike. The driver plead guilty to the charges, therefore, he cannot contest that he was drunk in the St Charles bike injury case because he admitted his intoxication when he plead guilty. However, about 6 months after the driver entered his plea of guilty, his criminal defense attorney filed a motion with the court to amend his plea of guilty to an “Alford Plea” commonly known as a “No Contest plea”. The only party the criminal defense lawyer is legally required to give notice to about this motion is the prosecutor’s office, not the victim or his personal lawyer, me! Luckily, my office monitors these types of things and caught the motion and will be at court to represent the victim to try and prevent this amendment. Why is this important you may ask? As stated above, in the civil case a guilty plea is admissible as an admission of guilt, i.e. the driver admitted he was drunk. However, a “No Contest” plea is technically not an admission of guilt. Therefore the drunk driver can attempt to deny his intoxication despite entering into a plea deal on the criminal side. A very sneaky move by the defense, however, since we expect these types of slimy moves we were able to catch it before it could have done any damage to the civil personal injury case.

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