Drunk Driver Causes Unthinkable Harm
Ashlee Swift came to Las Vegas with her fiancé, Anthony Alston, to get married. They brought their 11-month old baby and other family members, including Ashlee’s father, LaPriest Storms. Storms was excited about walking his daughter down the aisle, but plans were brutally changed due to the actions of a drunk driver. Instead of participating in wedding festivities, Alston and Storms kept a vigil at the hospital waiting for Swift to come out of emergency surgery. There was a question about whether or not she would even live.
It happened the night before the wedding when some of the family members decided to take a helicopter ride, an event enjoyed by many Las Vegas visitors. They hopped on a commuter van to transport them to the adventure site. They were on I-15 near Washington Avenue when drunk driver, Orlando Gunn, veered out of his lane and plowed into the van causing it to move sideways. Gunn slammed into the van a second time, causing it to roll over on its side. Witnesses said that just before the accident, they observed Gunn driving erratically at high speeds.
Swift was trapped under the van and Alston, with the help of other drivers who stopped to help, moved her out from under it. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition and was quickly taken to surgery. Instead of walking his daughter down the aisle, Storms sat in a chair at her bedside, praying for her to live.
Storms said the most difficult thing he has ever had to do was to tell Swift she had lost her left arm. He was captured on a news video weeping over his daughter’s tragic loss. Alston expressed his continuing commitment to his future bride. “I gotta take care of her, make sure she’s okay,” He said. He also expressed the terrible situation of having such a tragic thing happen while thousands of miles from home. The baby was sent with other family members back to Kentucky, while Storms and Alston committed to staying with Swift until she was able to go home.
Eleven other people were injured seriously enough to require hospital treatment. Swift was the only one who suffered injuries considered life-threatening. Gunn was charged with 10 counts of drunk driving and causing substantial bodily harm. He was also charged with other driving violations including reckless driving, failure to maintain a lane, having an open alcohol container in the vehicle and not wearing his seatbelt. He was held on $153,000 bail. Whether Gunn has any prior DUI convictions was not mentioned in any of the news articles.
Liability of Drunk Driver for Damages to Injured Victims
In 2015, in the U.S., nearly 3,000 people were killed in accidents caused by drunk drivers and another 290,000 were injured. Many of those accidents occurred in Nevada. In 2014, the most recent year for which there are specific Nevada statistics, 290 people were killed in drunk driving accidents and hundreds more injured.
In addition to a drunk driver facing prison time if convicted, a drunk driver is also responsible for all damages caused by the driver’s negligence. In this case, Swift’s life has drastically changed. Her injury was life-threatening and disabling. Punitive damages may be awarded if the court determines Gunn’s conduct was grossly negligent.
Losing a limb is life-altering. Someone like Swift may need medical care for the rest of her life. She may have to change careers and, if she is left-handed, she will have to relearn basic skills, such as eating, blow-drying and styling her hair, even using the bathroom. Hopefully, she will be a candidate for a prosthetic arm. She will need physical therapy to help her adjust. Prosthetics do not last a life-time. Someone as young as Swift, only 24-years-old, will need several different prosthetics over her lifetime. She may have lost earning capacity. The family has already needed assistance with child care. That may be an ongoing need. She should also qualify for damages due to the permanent disfigurement associated with the loss of a limb.
Family members often suffer when a loved one loses a limb. Instead of relying on the loved one to perform certain tasks, the loved one now needs assistance with activities of daily living.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Eric Woods is a Las Vegas personal injury attorney who is dedicated to obtaining compensation for victims of drunk drivers. He knows how to negotiate with insurance companies to get justice for his clients in the civil arena, which is separate from any criminal charges a drunk driver faces. He is an experienced trial attorney if that is what your case requires. If you have been injured in any way in an accident caused by a drunk driver, contact Eric H. Woods Law Offices today to schedule your free consultation.