An 18 year-old man has been ordered to stand trial for his role in a May 16th 2013, crash that killed another 22 year-old man. Timothy Barnette is facing charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and felony DUI. The fatal crash occurred just before 10 am on Route 56 in Rancho Penasquitos when Barnette crossed over a median into oncoming traffic and slammed his Land Rover into a Scion driven by 22 year-old Nicholas Hart, killing him instantly. Hart, a criminal justice student at Cal State San Marcos, was on his way to a family member’s funeral.
According to toxicology reports taken shortly after the crash, Barnette had Xanax, marijuana, and Difluroethane in his system. Difluroethane is a chemical found in products such as cans of computer cleaners and prosecutors suggested that he may have been “huffing” before getting behind the wheel. Three different drivers had called 911 just before the crash to report Barnette’s erratic driving. They reported him driving up onto sidewalks and medians, running red lights, and alternating between fast and slow speeds. They also said he had made a U-turn on an entrance ramp to Route 56. Barnette has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he faces a maximum of ten years in jail.
In addition to the criminal penalties, the drunk driver faces a civil lawsuit for wrongful death from the family of the person he killed. The civil suit will also include a claim for punitive damages and could be worth millions of dollars.
My personal injury law firm in Orange County is presently handling a claim against a drunk driver who went through a road closure and killed our clients’ 21 year old son as he was working on the freeway as a construction worker. The Los Angeles wrongful death lawsuit includes a claim for punitive damages. Unfortunately this isn’t the first wrongful death case caused by a drunk driver that we’ve handled.
The fair civil compensation that is owed to the surviving family members must compensate them for the loss of love, care, support, and companionship. When addressing a jury on a case like this, we tell them that they serve as the conscience of the community and must return a monetary verdict that tells the community that drunk driving won’t be tolerated and will cost the defendant significant sums of money.