Vancouver Woman May Be Unable to Collect $500,000 Judgment
A Vancouver woman who was awarded $529,000 by a Clark County jury may be unable to collect the judgment under state of Washington law, as the jury found that she was 58 percent negligent in the accident. Washington law states that if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent negligent as a result of intoxication, he or she is not eligible to receive compensation for damages.
According to court documents, Deborah R. Peralta had been drinking at a party on the night of the collision. She left the party on foot and called her brother to give her a ride home. While on the phone with her brother, Peralta claimed she saw his car, but he was still unable to see her and asked her to step into the roadway. She did as he asked, but it was not her brother's car whose headlights she saw. Peralta was struck and killed by a car driven by Trooper Ryan W. Tanner, who did not see her in time to avoid the accident.
Emergency Room Blood Tests
Peralta plans to appeal the portion of the jury's verdict regarding negligence, claiming that stepping into the roadway to attract the attention of her brother was a decision she would have made regardless of her intoxication. Emergency room blood tests indicated that Peralta's blood alcohol content was 0.167, which was more than twice the legal limit. Residents near the accident site testified they did not see the patrol car's headlights illuminated when Peralta was struck. The judge excluded testimony from an expert for the plaintiff who found an error in Peralta's blood test. Peralta suffered traumatic brain injury, as well as shoulder and leg injuries. She also suffers from short-term memory loss as a result of the accident.
The state law, which was changed during tort reform in 1986, was designed to reduce awards when both parties held some responsibility for an accident that caused injuries. Peralta's attorneys contend that she was not legally intoxicated, but that her actions would have occurred regardless of whether or not she was drinking that evening.
When negligence is suspected as the cause or a contributing factor in a car accident that causes injury or death, a liability claim may be in order. Contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel to schedule a free initial consultation regarding an auto accident where injuries may have been caused or worsened by the negligence of another driver.