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Driver Charged with DWI After Car Crash Causes Amputation

A 36-year-old woman had to have both legs amputated after a Long Island car crash in early November. The crash happened in Islip, Suffolk County, right after midnight on the southbound Sagtikos State Parkway, south of exit S1E.

The victim had gotten a flat tire, and walked around back to open the truck. A 25-year-old driver, who has since been charged with DWI, slammed into the victim and the back of her car. The impact severed both of her legs, and left her in critical yet stable condition.

Negligence per se and DWI charges

Drivers have a duty to follow the rules of the road and avoid causing harm to other drivers. Most car accidents claims proceed under a theory of negligence. To prove someone is negligent, the plaintiff must show that they had a duty of care, they breached that duty and as a result, the plaintiff suffered actual harm.

In this case, the driver who rear-ended the victim was charged with DWI. This means that the plaintiff may present her case under a theory of negligence per se. That is, because the driver was driving while intoxicated, it’s presumed he breached his duty of care. The defendant is entitled to present evidence to overcome that presumption. However, the fact that he violated the law—and was charged with DWI as a result—is strong evidence that his actions did not meet the appropriate standard of care. By breaking the law, his actions presumptively breached his duty.

While the plaintiff still has to prove that the breach of duty (driving drunk) was the cause of actual harm (amputation), the negligence per se presumption can make a case easier to prove.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, having the experienced personal injury attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP can help. Reach out today to learn more.