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Driver in 3-person fatal accident sentenced

A car accident occurs suddenly and often results in serious injuries. A drunk driver might swerve off the road or hit a pedestrian. Just because the unexpected happens does not mean there are not remedies. Whether the accident causes injury or wrongful death, victims and their families should know their legal rights. There may be ways to receive compensation for suffering that can help pay for medical bills and perhaps ease some pain and suffering.

Such compensation may be imposed above and beyond the penalties that may be issued by a criminal court, as in the recent case of one Wisconsin woman. The 44-year-old woman recently pleaded no contest to drunk driving in connection with an accident that killed three people. She has been sentenced to six years in prison.

According to official reports, the woman was driving drunk in October 2011, lost control of her van and struck and killed a man, his wife, and their adult daughter. The prosecutor proposed 20 years in prison, arguing that the circumstances that led to the accident were the result of the woman's choices, rather an accident. The victims' friends and family members also asked for the maximum punishment.

The defense argued for no prison time, noting that the woman neither drinks nor drives anymore. The woman received six years in prison and 15 years probation. The judge, acknowledging that the jail term didn't meet either side's request, said his hope is that it might help to deter others from drinking and driving.

These kinds of accidents rarely affect just the few who were directly involved. By the prosecution's own estimate, this case impacted more than 50 people. Whether any of them have taken the steps available to explore seeking civil remedies isn't known. All would be wise to consult with an attorney to see if they might have a legitimate claim to make.

Source: WLUK-TV, "Woman sentenced in crash that killed 3," Laura Smith, Dec. 21, 2012

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