There is no excuse for drunk driving. When one person makes the decision to drink and drive, they are also making the decision to put countless other lives at risk of death or serious personal injury. Every single day in the United States, another twenty-eight people are killed as the result of drunk driving collisions. In 2013 alone, there were more than 10,000 drunk driving fatalities. Tragically, all of these accidents are entirely avoidable.
On November 12, 2011, Jose Rodriguez made the decision to consume fifteen beers in a hotel parking lot, before getting behind the wheel of his car. Rodriguez did not have a driver’s license, and he was in America illegally. As he drove northbound on York Road in Oak Brook, Illinois, Rodriguez drunkenly crossed the centerline, causing a devastating head-on collision with a minivan. That minivan was driven by Margaret Bennett. Bennett had been driving her six-year-old daughter and a friend home after a night out watching the Sound of Music and eating ice cream. It was only 8:30 PM when the crash occurred. Rodriguez had a blood alcohol level of 0.197, more than twice the legal limit.
Everyone involved in the accident suffered serious injuries. All parties had to be extricated from their vehicles and transported to the hospital for emergency medical treatment. One of the girls suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain. Bennett also suffered severe injuries, including crushing injuries to her right leg and ankle. To date, Bennett has had to undergo six surgeries.
Although Rodriguez did not have a license and did not have a legal right to be in the United States, he somehow managed to get car insurance coverage from a company called Unique Insurance. Still, even though the evidence was stacked against Rodriguez, Unique refused to pay out on the claim. According to the Hindsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch, Unique refused to entertain offers to settle. Left with no choice, Bennett enlisted the legal assistance of attorney G. Grant Dixon III, who helped her file a claim against Rodriguez. The lawsuit was successful, and Bennett was awarded $3.9 million in personal injury damages. The next step, Dixon says, is suing the insurance company.