On July 1, 2012, Brittany Sailors exited a neighborhood along with two passengers and attempted to turn left onto Lakeview Road near Grayson, Georgia when an oncoming motorist collided into the driver’s side of Ms. Sailors’ vehicle. The force of the impact to Ms. Sailor’s vehicle was so great that the damage totaled her vehicle and sadly ended her life at the scene of the crash.
Ms. Sailors had been operating a 2000 Mitsubishi Diamante and the other motorist, Matujah Paasewe, was operating a 1998 Bonneville. In comparison, the Bonneville model is a larger and somewhat heavier vehicle than the Mitsubishi. From the video shown in the AJC article, it appears that the Bonneville was traveling at fairly high speed. In contrast, Ms. Sailors was probably traveling at a slower speed as she was entering an intersection.
Irrespective of which motorist was at fault for the collision, the heaviest vehicle typically offers the most protection to its occupants. It should also be noted that neither Ms. Sailor nor her passengers wore a seat belt at the time of the impact. Both passengers were taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening.
The investigating police charged Matujah Paasewe with driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the wreck. Although the incident report has not yet been released to the public, one can assume from the DUI charge that the police believe that Mr. Paasewe presented to them at the scene of the wreck with some indications of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Some indicators on intoxication at the scene of the collision would typically include the smell of alcohol on the motorist and his/her breath, slurred speech, odd or unusual demeanor, failure of one or more field sobriety tests designed to test response time and dexterity and an alco-sensor test (so sensitive that it can be held a distance away from the motorist and measures alcohol on the breath of the motorist). The accident report will most likely reveal that Matujah Paasewe had demonstrated one or more indicators as he was arrested at the scene and booked into the Gwinnett County jail.
According to the AJC article, the police believe that Brittany attempted to turn left without first yielding to Mr. Paasewe’s oncoming vehicle. The collision took place at night and there is no mention of lighting issues or visual obstructions pertaining to either motorist. Under Georgia law, Mr. Paasewe had the right of way and any motorist would be required to wait until he had safely passed prior to any maneuver to turn left.
If we assume that the facts in the AJC article are true, then this crash is an example of competing negligence. On the one hand, Mr. Paasewe was traveling too fast for conditions then existing in an intoxicated state. On the other hand, Ms. Sailor pulled into the path of Mr. Paasewe’s oncoming vehicle caused by her failure to yield. In theory, the occupants of Ms. Sailor’s vehicle and Mr. Paasewe would have a civil claim for damages against the estate of Ms. Sailor for failure to yield. And – the estate of Ms. Sailor (and possibly her parents) and Ms. Sailor’s passengers would have a similar claim against Mr. Paasewe for speeding and DUI. In both situations, the passengers in Ms. Sailor’s car would have a claim against each or both drivers for their injuries.
If a civil lawsuit should be filed, then the jury will be required to determine the facts, liability, causation of injury/death and assign a percentage of negligence to the motorists to determine any applicable monetary verdict. Additionally, Mr. Paasewe shall be subject to an adjudication of his criminal charges which is a separate legal process. In any event, monetary damages will not bring back Ms. Sailor and this is truly a tragic and unfortunate event for her family and friends.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a motorist, then please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help navigate you through the legal maze to help you recover for your injuries.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting car collision cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the gross negligence of a motorist under the influence of alcohol, then please call today to determine your rights.