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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Driver charged with three felonies for fatal Wisconsin bike crash

Criminal charges were filed recently in a western Wisconsin court for a car--motorcycle accident that took place last October. Pierce County authorities spent months investigating the fatal car accident, speaking with witnesses whose versions of the crash were not the same as the defendant's story.

An out-of-state woman is accused of multiple felonies. If convicted, the driver could be imprisoned for decades. The 20-year--old could also be named in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits for injuring one victim and killing another.

According to Pierce County law enforcers, the driver was intoxicated when her vehicle swerved head-on into a motorcycle on Highway 63. Witnesses and the surviving victim said the suspect's car was weaving before it crossed from the southbound lane into the northbound two-wheeler's path.

The 65-year-old motorcycle operator died from crash injuries. His 38-year-old female passenger suffered an arm fracture, ankle contusion, cuts and abrasions.

The suspect initially said she was headed northbound from Red Wing, Minnesota, into Ellsworth. Later the woman told authorities she went southbound after missing a turn. The driver also claimed she fell asleep while driving and had not used drugs or alcohol.

Reconstruction crews confirmed the witnesses' testimony. Toxicology test results showed the driver's blood was free of alcohol but contained traces of marijuana.

During the driver's initial court appearance, she was charged with three homicide counts -- vehicular homicide while intoxicated, a separate homicide charge for use of a controlled substance and a third charge for negligent vehicle operation resulting in homicide.

The combined maximum penalties for a conviction could include fines adding up to $125,000 and imprisonment for up to 35 years.

The criminal punishment of an at-fault driver is a source of justice for injured victims and families left behind by a fatal accident. Compensation is a source of comfort found in civil court, where juries award plaintiffs with damages when a motorist's negligent behavior causes harm.

Source: republican-eagle.com, "Red Wing woman charged with vehicular homicide," Jason Schulte, March 27, 2013

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