The family of a man who was seriously injured in a drunk driving accident two years ago says the punishment does not fit the crime in the sentencing of the other driver. The victim, now 21, suffered severe brain injuries that have left him unable to care for himself. The juvenile drunk driver charged with the crime was sentenced to probation and community service on Feb. 13, in an Ontario court. The family believes the court was too lenient, which may mean they could pursue further legal action in a civil courtroom.
According to the accident report from Dec. 26, 2015, the victim and a friend were walking home from a party in the early hours of the morning when an ATV operated by a then-16-year-old male struck him from behind with enough force to throw him some 200 feet. The victim was rushed to a local hospital with injuries his father said made him unrecognizable. Emergency surgery was performed, but it quickly became apparent that the brain injuries he suffered were too extensive for rehabilitation. He was transferred to a long-term care center, where he requires 24 hour care.
The teenager charged with the crime pleaded guilty in court and was sentenced to 240 hours of community service, a five-year driving ban and two years' probation. The family is not satisfied with the outcome of the trial, feeling that the punishment does not fit the gravity of the crime. The family has not made public whether they will choose to seek, or have already sought, further redress against the teenager through the civil justice system.
Thankfully, there is further legal recourse available to the family of the victim under Ontario law. Given the fact that the brain injuries suffered by the victim will influence his quality of life until his death, the family may choose to file a civil suit against the perpetrator and possibly other named defendants, including the owner of the vehicle the teen was driving. In this case, a guilty verdict in criminal court will likely lend weight to claims to recover monetary damages in civil court.
Source: CBC News, "ATV operator who drove drunk gets probation for crash that left man brain damaged", Colleen Connors, Feb. 13, 2017