Family wins $13M in four-year legal battle over fatal crash

Nov 21, 2019 | Vehicle Accidents

The surviving family members of a retired couple settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the City of Seattle, Washington, after a four-year legal battle. As reported by Fox59 News, the parties reached a $13 million settlement over the fatal crash resulting from a motorist who should have had an ignition interlock device installed on his vehicle. The family claimed negligence on the part of the city for not supervising the motorist after the state suspended his driver’s license.

Shortly after moving to Seattle, the former Indiana couple was walking outside with their newborn grandson and daughter-in-law. The inebriated driver plowed his truck into the pedestrians as they crossed Northeast 75th Street. The retired couple both died in the wreck, and the newborn and his mother suffered severe injuries. While the initial lawsuit requested $45 million, the settlement reached included $6.5 million from the city’s insurance carriers and $6.5 million from the City of Seattle.

Driving under the influence

The family’s complaint argued that the motorist should not have been able to drive his vehicle at the time of the deadly accident. Reportedly, he was already on probation after his fifth DUI arrest, and the state required his truck to have an ignition interlock device installed. The lawsuit contends that if the city had properly monitored the driver, he would not have been able to drive his truck before the crash.

The driver’s fatal crash resulted in a felony conviction and a prison sentence of 18 years. A field sobriety test revealed that he had a blood alcohol content level of .22 before striking the two retired high school employees.

State and local government responsibilities

According to the CDC, alcohol impairment results in 28% of the fatal traffic accidents across the U.S. Each state imposes its own penalties and punishments for motorists caught driving under the influence, and supervising drivers is necessary to ensure public safety. There is a duty of care entrusted to local government to prevent serious injuries or death from vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers.