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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Wisconsin teen sentenced for paralyzing friend in crash

The motor vehicle accident happened on a spring morning last year as a group of five friends were returning from a trip to a Wabeno-area cabin. Wisconsin State Patrol reported the teenage driver had alcohol and marijuana in his system when the vehicle swerved into a ditch and overturned.

The nearly fatal car accident severed the spine of a 20-year-old passenger, a Wisconsin man who had plans to join the military. According to court documents, the accident victim is now a quadriplegic who permanently lost the functional use of his limbs.

Two other occupants in the vehicle suffered minor injuries. Another passenger walked away uninjured.

The 19-year-old driver pleaded no contest to charges of causing the accident on Wisconsin 32 and Star Lake Road in the Oconto County town of Riverview. Official police reports say the driver was operating under the influence of an intoxicant.

The teenage driver's blood test revealed traces of marijuana. An alcohol breath test administered by police registered 0.06 percent, below the 0.08 state intoxication threshold for drivers of drinking age. Drivers under 21 are required to operate a vehicle alcohol-free.

Oconto County authorities charged the 19-year-old separately with OWI and causing great bodily injury by vehicle under the influence of a controlled substance.

The defendant was sentenced to a six-month prison term and three months of probation, along with 50 hours of community service and fines totaling more than $1,200. The teen's driver's license was suspended for two years. An ignition interlock system will be fitted to his car when his license is reinstated. While justice has been served in criminal court, the permanently injured man may choose to seek compensation for his injuries in civil court in order to cover short-term and long-term medical costs.

Source: greenbaypressgazette.com, "Bryan Robles of Green Bay gets 6 months for crash that paralyzed Tyler Van Boxel," Nov. 16, 2011

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