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Wrongful death case against Alabama students to begin this summer

The family of a University of Alabama student who would have graduated this spring has filed a wrongful death suit against two other UA students whom they blame for the accident that killed the 20-year-old. The crash occurred in January 2013 as the victim and other students were returning from a UA football game in Miami.

According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, the man who was driving the truck and the man who owned the vehicle spent much of their vacation in South Beach drinking and partying, with little sleep. However, alcohol was reportedly not the cause of the crash. The attorney alleges that it was lack of sleep.

According to the attorney, in investigating the case and talking with witnesses, they learned that the driver had gotten no sleep when he took his turn at the wheel on the drive back to Tuscaloosa. “What they did was no different than someone getting behind the wheel drinking and driving,” said the attorney. The wrongful death suit holds both men responsible.

Montgomery police say that the driver of the truck made an illegal turn, causing a charter bus carrying UA cheerleaders also returning to campus to crash into it. Another vehicle then hit the truck head-on as it spun from the initial crash. The plaintiff’s attorney said the driver had not been paying attention to the road signs.

The young woman was reportedly sleeping in the back of the truck when the crash occurred. Her head was on the side of the vehicle impacted by the collision with the bus. She died from brain injuries several days later.

Neither the driver nor the owner of the truck was criminally charged in the accident. The plaintiff’s attorney believes that had the driver been intoxicated rather than “extremely fatigued” at the time of the crash, he would not have escaped charges. The civil case is scheduled to be heard by a jury this August.

A driver does not have to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs to be impaired. A sleep-deprived driver can be every bit as dangerous on the road. Even when criminal charges are not filed against a driver, if that driver’s condition caused harm or death, he or she can be held legally responsible via a civil lawsuit. It won’t put them behind bars, but it can make them financially responsible for both compensatory and punitive damages.

Source: AL.com, “Trial set for summer in wrongful death suit of UA student killed in crash with charter bus” Erin Edgemon, May. 08, 2014

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