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Firefighter charged with drunk driving and negligent homicide

When a drunk driver causes personal injury to others in a vehicle accident in New York, he or she will usually be liable for the damages suffered by those injured. Any claim made by an injured party for civil damages is separate and apart from the criminal prosecution of the defendant for drunk driving. However, some of the evidence relating to the criminal prosecution may be admissible in the civil case to establish the defendant's recklessness and as justification for a possible award of punitive damages.

In White Plains, a fatal head-on collision in the early hours of Nov. 3 took the life of a 47-year-old female passenger in one of the cars, and resulted in the arrest of a 34-year-old firefighter for negligent homicide and drunk driving. The accused was allegedly operating his car in the wrong direction on South Lexington Avenue in the business district of White Plains, when he caused the head-on crash with a grey sedan driven by a 49-year-old male. The deceased female was a passenger in that vehicle.

The driver of the sedan has been hospitalized with critical injuries. The defendant driver  was also hospitalized at the Westchester Medical Center, where he will be arraigned. Police say he was intoxicated, with a blood content allegedly of .145, which is nearly double the legal limit.

The decedent's immediate family may pursue a wrongful death claim pursuant to New York law against the alleged drunk driver. The driver of the sedan also has a potential claim for monetary compensation. Under certain circumstances, there may be punitive damages added to the defendant's liability, due to the apparent reckless and wanton abandon associated with his drunk driving. If the defendant tortfeasor had insufficient insurance, the decedent's estate and the injured driver may seek further remuneration under the underinsured provisions of their own insurance policies.

Source: 7online.com, "1 dead in White Plains wrong-way crash involving allegedly drunk off-duty firefighter", Lucy Yang, Nov. 3, 2014

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