In a disturbing criminal case, a 56-year-old woman pleaded guilty to negligent homicide this week. She told the judge that she was heavily medicated at the time - when her flip-flop sandal became tangled in the accelerator pedal, she was unable to maintain control of the car.
Although her plea deal concludes the criminal charges against her, this driver could probably face a wrongful death lawsuit for civil damages. Based on her admissions to the judge, it seems likely that these facts would support a judgment against her.
The driver admitted that she was medicated with six different substances at the time of the crash - including three different antidepressants. After dropping a child off at a daycare center, the woman drove along a quiet residential street, apparently speeding. Somehow one of her flip-flops got caught in the accelerator pedal, causing her to rapidly speed up.
She crashed through a parking lot and onto a sidewalk, hitting and killing three women between the ages of 66 and 81.
Wrongful death lawsuits seek to compensate the families for victims when a death resulted from carelessness, negligence, or recklessness. Many wrongful death cases involve impaired driving. The decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle while heavily medicated or intoxicated is almost always unreasonably reckless. The consequences of this case demonstrate why California law does not tolerate impaired driving.
Source: Wall Street Journal, "NY driver on meds admits guilt in 3 women's deaths," Nov. 9, 2012