Tampa Woman in Jail After Alleged DUI Crash
50-year-old Helen Mention is behind bars after she allegedly drove drunk and slammed into a guardrail. Her infant grandchild, who was in the vehicle, died three days later.
According to police and witnesses, Mention was driving erratically before the final crash. Responders found her semi-conscious and slumped against the driver’s side door. Harlem, her 10-month-old granddaughter, was completely unresponsive. In court, Mention’s attorney argued that there was no direct evidence of intoxication. A hospital nurse apparently said Mention’s BAC level was .226, but prosecutors offered no physical evidence during a preliminary hearing. Instead, Mention’s attorney offered that she had sustained a head injury.
Evidence in Tampa Alcohol-Related Crashes
Based on the facts alone, there may not be enough evidence in the above story to prove DUI in criminal court. However, there is probably more than enough evidence to establish impairment in civil court.
The burden of proof is often critical. In criminal court, people are presumed innocent. To overcome this presumption, prosecutors must produce a substantial amount of evidence. In DUI prosecutions, that usually means a combination of multiple pieces of evidence — like clear failure of field sobriety tests, admissions of impairment, or a legally admissible lab result. It appears that neither of those things are present here.
But in civil court, there is no presumption of innocence. Instead, victim/plaintiffs must only establish facts by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not). Evidence of impairment includes:
- Tortfeasor’s previous activity (e. was the tortfeasor recently at a place where alcohol was served),
- Erratic driving, and
- Impaired memory.
Taken individually, these facts do not prove intoxication, or even impairment. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Impairment is different from intoxication. Most people are intoxicated after they consume three of four drinks in a couple of hours. But impairment begins with the first drink. And, that’s what a victim/plaintiff must show in criminal court.
Wrongful Death Claims
From both an emotional and legal standpoint, these cases are quite complex. A good Tampa personal injury attorney helps victims cope with both these aspects.
Fundamentally, a negligence action is not about “blaming” anyone for the crash. In fact, most of these claims settle out of court. And, these settlements usually include no admission of liability. Furthermore, we all make mistakes. In this respect, tortfeasors are not different from victims. However, we all must accept the consequences of our mistakes. In this context, these consequences include fair compensation. This is an area where insurance companies do not act fairly.
The amount of compensation is difficult to determine in wrongful death claims. So, attorneys often partner with financial professionals to determine things like:
- Lost future earnings,
- Lost future emotional support, and
- Possible future financial support.
There might be procedural difficulties as well. Many victims are vulnerable to certain types of injuries. One person’s fatal injury might be another person’s bump on the head. But according to the eggshell skull rule, the result is all that matters. If a pre-existing illness, injury, or other condition made a victim more susceptible to injury, full compensation is still available.
Contact Aggressive Lawyers
Civil cases utilize special rules of procedure and have a different burden of proof than criminal cases. For a free consultation with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney, contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.