The Verdict - The Lombardi Law Firm Blog
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The Sioux City Journal reported about the crash in Spencer, Iowa where two people were seriously injured Monday in a hit-and-run crash in Clay County. Injured were two people on a motorcycle. The alleged offender was driving and SUV on Highway 18 at around 7:16 p.m.
A person later was found that fit the description and he was charged with operating under the influence and improper passing. Additional charges are, according to the police department pending.
Not knowing more about the circumstances it's difficult to discern the motivation of the driver for leaving the scene. One is immediately lead to the conclusion this suspect must be the one and was driving drunk. But as a lawyer we are not able to jump to such conclusions. Is this the correct driver? Or is he just a suspect. The police will be required to produce witnesses and other evidence to place this suspect in the driver's seat of the appropriate vehicle, which undoubtedly has some damage to it and perhaps paint chips from the motorcycle or clothing or blood from the injured persons. Also witnesses that can place the driver in a bar or other drinking establishment will be helpful to corroborate his drinking and the amount to which he drank. Remember the suspect was not found at the scene and could have consumed alcohol at some other location following the collision; which isn’t relevant to his impairment while driving at the time of the crash.
A detailed technical investigation of the scene is critical. Speeds may be determined from crash impact, witness testimony and from ski marks, if any. All this is evidence of a crime and must be performed in such a way as to be later admissible in court.
A tough job but one in which the police departments are fully equipped to do.
This is why young men and women go to law school or join the police academy. This is the work of forensics that excites many young people.
Yesterday our news items included a motorcycle-deer crash near Le Mars. Today I'm taking that a bit further and discussing whether child-neglect laws require parents to protect children by requiring them to wear a helmet while riding.
I’ve been following motorcycle crashes now for well over a year to determine causes and how they might be prevented. One way to prevent serious injury, including brain damage is to wear a helmet. Preventing the accident or wreck can include educating car and truck drivers to be more aware and to look harder during the summer months for motorcycles, but more than half of all accidents involving motorcycles aren’t with another vehicle. As we’ve reported before animals, including deer, are a considerable safety factor.
Here was yesterday’s news report.
Another motorcycle-deer collision caused injury to a Remsen father and so. The Sioux City Journal reports Michael and John Naser were taken to Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City for injuries received on Iowa Highway 3 near Polk Avenue in Plymouth County. No report on whether or not a helmet was worn by the 12 year old passenger and the extent of injuries each received. I’ve wondered if a parent has a common law duty to protect a child with a helmet, even though state law does not require one. State law doesn’t require a parent to hold a child’s hand while crossing a busy street, but the common sense tells us otherwise. While children in most instances can not sue a parent in civil court for negligence county officials might charge a parent with neglect under Iowa State Law. Many states have such laws which are collected at the Child Welfare Information Gateway site. I say this because neglect can include a failure to supervise.
Neglect - Neglect is frequently defined in terms of deprivation of adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision. Approximately 21 States and American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands include failure to educate the child as required by law in their definition of neglect.5 Seven States further define medical neglect as failing to provide any special medical treatment or mental health care needed by the child.6 In addition, four States define as medical neglect the withholding of medical treatment or nutrition from disabled infants with life-threatening conditions.7
As a lawyer who represents people I’ve been conditioned to look ahead. Any parent whose child was killed while on a motorcycle riding without a helmet might find themselves charged with a crime by an over-enthusiastic prosecutor. It’s something to consider.
Neglect that results in a child’s death often times draws serious consideration to the degree of risk the child was exposed.
Fatal Neglect - Certainly the most severe, irrecoverable consequence of neglect is death. In 1996, a review of the States' child maltreatment fatalities revealed that 45 percent of the deaths were attributed to neglect and an additional 3 percent to neglect and abuse (Wang & Daro, 1997). Although not all States reported the data, it is estimated that these percentages translate into approximately 502 child deaths associated with neglect in 1996. Another study conducted in Iowa (which only had a sample size of 34) found that two-thirds of the children who died from neglect were under the age of 2, more than two-thirds were male, and families had an average of 3.3 children (Margolin, 1990). This study also found that the large majority of children who died due to neglect died as a result of a single life-threatening incident rather than from chronic neglect. These fatalities included drowning and scalding in bathtubs, fires, unsafe cribs, gun accidents, choking, and drug/alcohol overdoses. "In the vast majority of fatalities from neglect, a caregiver was simply not there when needed at a critical moment" (Margolin, 1990, p. 314).
See Acts of Omission : An Overview of Child Neglect, Bulletin for Professionals, 2001.
While I offer no opinion on whether this is even possible it something to consider. As our government resources to pay for medical care become tighter these are the areas where legal concerns abound. Where your helmet or at least require your child to wear one. Be safe not sorry.
Only 19 and with a promising career as a nurse the death of Miss Martin raises several questions one of which is why the motorcycle on which she was a passenger was heading south in the northbound lane of Kerper Boulevard. There is obviously more to this story than meets the eye. I know some boulevards are confusing and if wide enough can cause a driver to mistakenly turn too soon. The east bound off-ramp for I-80 and Merle Hay Road in Des Moines has that same confusing effect. The signage is terrible and if there are no cars heading south on Merle Hay Road a driver can easily turn north into the southbound lanes.
In this instance the mistakes were deadly. Of course wearing helmets may have helped save her life. As the person in the video says, "Don't put a cheap helmet on a priceless head."
I checked the Iowa State Patrol reports and no report have been filed. There are three fatality reports from September 16 to the 21st, 2008, but none from Dubuque. Obviously there is more to this wreck than is obvious.