In Jan. 2012, a vehicle driven by a man under the influence struck two bicycle riders in Louisiana. A jury convicted the driver of homicide by vehicle and vehicular negligent injuring in the first degree last October. In advance of his sentencing on March 18 in connection with the alcohol-related car accident, the judge allowed the surviving cyclist to testify early because he now lives out-of-state and will not be able to appear at the sentencing hearing.
Not only did the cyclist lose a good friend the day of the accident, he also suffered permanent injuries. Due to nerve damage, a shattered pelvis and other injuries, he has to wear a lower body brace. He finds it difficult to sit, stand and sleep for any length of time.
In the aftermath of the crash, he went through several surgeries just to attain the level of recovery he is at currently. He is on four medications that are expensive, suffers from memory loss and has lost full enjoyment of his life. As part of his victim impact statement, he expressed his opinion to the judge that the driver should serve the maximum sentence.
The driver faces five to 30 years in prison. Authorities determined that the man's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was .307. After consuming several drinks at a local bar, the man was on the road for a mere eight minutes before the crash.
In car accident cases similar to this one, a victim -- or the family of a deceased victim -- might be able to use the criminal conviction and sentencing of the party deemed responsible for the crash to help establish negligence in related civil actions in a Louisiana court. Successful claims could result in damage awards. Any financial restitution received could help defray the costs incurred as a result of the car accident.
Source: theadvocate.com, "Severly injured cyclist says his life was ruined by drunk driver in fatal 2012 Perkins Road crash", Joe Gyan, Jr., Feb. 11, 2015