Dubuque County, Iowa – According to a report on KCCI and KWWL-TV on August 2, 2014 a pickup truck being operated by Joe Connolly failed to stop at a stop sign and crashed into a small utility vehicle. The impact of the crash killed all four teenage passengers in the other vehicle. Those four included four 14 year old children who lost their lives. According the news reports they are Sean Kenneally, Mitchell Kluesner, Nicholas Kramer, and Bryce Wilwert.
“Those killed were Sean Kenneally, of Peosta; Mitchell Kluesner, of Epworth; Nicholas Kramer, of Dyersville; and Bryce Wilwert, of Epworth. All were 14 years old.
According to the news report online, “Police found an unsealed bottle of vodka and a cooler of beer in Connolly's truck, in addition to a beer can on the passenger side of the floor, the document said.”
The news reports state, that Joe Connolly had two passengers, Joe Lucas and Elissa Ericson, who were injured in the crash. Joe Lucas was in stable condition at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics while Elissa Erickson was treated for minor injuries. Joe Connolly walked away uninjured.
At the scene police found an unsealed bottle of vodka and a cooler of beer in Connolly’s truck as well as a beer can on the passenger side of the floor. Joe Connolly also failed two out of three standardized field sobriety tests and Deputy Tony Dalsing of the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office said that this is indicative of alcohol or drug impairment. No charges have been filed at this time. Remember suspicion is not proof, it is evidence of nothing so you cannot conclude anything about the other driver.
Regardless of whether or not a driver was intoxicated, all drivers must maintain proper control of their vehicle, look out for other vehicles, and adhere to the posted traffic signs. If a driver fails to do any of these acts, they are responsible for any damages they proximately cause.
Iowa law requires minimum auto insurance coverage. The law requires bodily injury minimum’s of $20,000 per person and $40,000 for all people injured in any one accident. Because of the high costs to provide medical care and treatment, carrying the minimum limits of insurance is essentially no insurance at all. With six people injured, and the cost of funerals averaging between $7,000 and $10,000, it’s easy to see how quickly the parent’s of these young children might be faced with a financial catastrophe. I just hung up with a hospital billing department in Missouri wanting to know who will pay their $601,000.00 bill and my client wasn't even there for a month. He was at the hospital from the 12th to the 30th. My client is one of two people in the car that was rear ended by a truck. Do the math and you can quickly see more than $1.2 million dollars in medical costs alone.
After thirty three years I am still in business for a reason and it has everything to do with being needed by people that work for a living. Meaning you.
Why is all this important at this point? It is important because there will be so many competing claims for the limited available insurance coverage. Claims will need to be made against underinsured policy provisions and can drag out for months or years. Umbrella policies may be involved and those policies aren’t readily disclosed by the insurance industry.
But here is a more pressing problem, evidence to prove this claim is being destroyed as you read this blog. The accident hasn’t even been reported publically by the Iowa State Patrol so details are sketchy at best. You can’t always rely on the news agencies to report the most important legal facts, that is not their job. If drinking and driving is involved then a potential dram shop action needs to be explored and investigated. There are reasons why drunk drivers should want to disclose these details to the plaintiff’s attorney through criminal defense counsel.
Wait if you must, bash the personal injury lawyers if it helps, but don’t sit back thinking the insurance industry is going to treat you fairly because fairness has nothing to do with the insurance claim’s process. In that business it is all about their bottom line, not yours. So while the parents and relatives are mourning let the lawyers protect your interests by hiring one.