One does not need to be a top personal injury lawyer to know that driving while intoxicated can have devastating and deadly consequences. The influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, impairs a motorists’ ability to control a vehicle, often ending in unfortunate accidents causing serious personal injury or death. If the impaired driver causes an accident that results in the injury of others, it is likely that the motorist will be held legally accountable. However, if the drunk driver is on the job at the time of a crash, the situation becomes increasingly complicated. Such an example is seen in a recent case where the employer of a Michigan executive who caused a fatal drunk driving accident is on trial, as the motorist was working at the time of the incident.
The origin of this example comes from a wrongful death lawsuit brought to a Federal Court in Michigan by Gary Weinstein, a Oakland County jeweler who lost his wife and two sons in a tragic car accident years earlier. In 2005, Thomas Wellinger, a former sales executive for UGS (now Siemens), rear-ended the vehicle that they were in killing the passengers inside. Police that arrived on the scene performed several sobriety tests on Wellinger, eventually determining that his blood-alcohol content was 0.43–well over the legal limit in Michigan of 0.08. For his role in the auto accident, Wellinger pleaded guilty no contest to second-degree murder and is currently serving a 19 to 30-year prison sentence for it.
While it seems that this tragic accident has found a legal conclusion, this case is far from over.
A Michigan federal jury is currently rehashing the details of the 2005 accident, as a new lawsuit is being brought against Wellinger’s employer at the time of the accident, UGS. The Michigan injury attorney for Weinstein maintains that Wellinger was within the scope of his employment at the time of the crash, therefore making his employer liable for the outcome.
When Wellinger crashed into the Weinstein’s vehicle, he was on his was from work to a doctor’s appointment to be treated for alcoholism. As the psychiatrist appointment was a condition of his employment, the Plaintiff’s state that the company knew or should have known that Wellinger was intoxicated. However, even though Wellinger’s boss knew and required that he sees a doctor, the boss claims that he thought it was for depression, not alcohol abuse. Additionally, Wellinger’s coworkers maintain that they saw no visible signs of intoxication on the day of the crash and that he alone is to blame for the consequences.
Although it is unknown what the jury will decide, this case could set many precedents throughout the state both in the law and the workplace. If the jury finds UGS liable, it would redefine how responsible a company really is for its employees. Likewise, it would prompt employers to reexamine and make changes to their policies dealing with workers who have known alcohol or drug problems.
Regardless of the outcome, this case serves as a cold reminder of how dangerous drinking and driving can be–whether one is on the job or not. Victims of these devastating accidents are left with not only physical and mental scars, but also financial burdens, as medical bills can quickly pile up. Because of the many consequences associated with these incidents, it is essential for victims to seek the best personal injury attorney available. Doing so immediately will ensure the legal advice and legal representation needed to recover compensation for your personal injury claim. Contact a knowledgeable and hard-working Michigan injury lawyer today.