I might as well write about the other side of the coin. The victims. In particular, compensation. Compensation for injuries comes from two main areas, insurance companies for the at fault party (or uninsured motorist coverage which stands in the shoes of the at fault party) and restitution (i.e. the criminal courts). I wrote an article recently about Restitution for victims of drunken driving collisions. Here’s a section from it:
In Wisconsin a few years ago, 326 people died and 6,221 were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes. Approximately 42 percent of all fatal crashes in Wisconsin involved alcohol. Helping the victims of drunk drivers involves knowledge of civil and criminal procedure. With restitution you may be able to obtain companesation for medical bills, wage loss, mileage and other “certain” damages well in advance of a civil settlement or trial.
WIS. STATS. 973.20
A judge imposing sentence is required to order full or partial restitution unless he finds a “substantial reason not to do so.” Trial courts should be liberal in finding whether an injury relates to a defendant’s conduct. A trial court may “take a defendant’s entire course of conduct into consideration” including “all facts and reasonable inferences concerning the defendant’s activity related to the “crime” for which [he] was convicted, not just those facts necessary to support the elements of the crime.
The causal link for restitution purposes is met “when the defendant’s criminal act set into motion events that resulted in teh damage or injury.” Where the crime results in personal injury, the restitution order may include all “special damages.” (e.g. medical and related expenses, physical therapy, and mental health care, lost income, and reasonable out of pocket expenses).
I’ll talk more about this in later posts. I think it’s important for victims and attorneys of victims to remember all of the avenues to compensate those injured by drunk drivers.