Drunk-driving accidents can wreak havoc on the lives of many people, including victims, communities and family members.
State police recently announced that a Washington County man is facing homicide charges after he struck and killed a Moon Township man early in a head-on car crash in Robinson Township, Washington County.
George Raymond Jucha Jr., 50, of Moon, was pronounced dead after his car was struck head-on by an oncoming vehicle traveling in the wrong lane on Route 22, according to police.
Jucha was traveling eastbound and the other vehicle was headed west.
Washington County Coroner Tim Warco pronounced Jucha dead at the scene at about 2 a.m.
The driver of the other vehicle, Daniel H. Fleet Jr., 25, of McDonald, is being charged by state police with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault, reckless driving and other charges.
He suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Allegheny General Hospital on the North side. He was later released from the hospital, and is currently lodged in the Washington County Jail.
Police said the driver of a third car suffered minor injuries.
Court records show that Fleet was charged with another DUI in November. He had a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.16 percent, which is more than twice the legal limit.
He was also charged with careless driving. The case was waived to court in Allegheny County.
According to Pennsylvania law, if convicted, Fleet would face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and be fined as much as $25,000.
While the criminal charges satisfy the state, the victim’s family is left with sorrow because of the senseless loss of their loved one.
In this most recent case, the victim – Jucha – was an anti-fracking activist who will be mourned by many in the community.
In these cases, victim’s families have legal recourse and can pursue their own charges against drunk drivers. In fact, a civil lawsuit may be the only way they can recover lost wages, economic damages and medical bills.
Along with charges aimed at the perpetrator, victim’s families in Pennsylvania can also pursue action against a bar or restaurant – or even a private homeowner – for serving alcohol to an intoxicated person.
Family members should hire an experienced lawyer to investigate potential claims and to ensure they receive all of the compensation they are entitled to.
Replacing just the income of the individual killed can range from hundreds of thousands to even millions of dollars, depending on their age, income and other variables. Mr. Jucha left behind two elderly parents who depended on him to help run their recycling business and take care of him. They cannot replace their son.
The fact that the perpetrator also had a history of DUIs with a high blood-alcohol content can also impact a civil case. That’s because the courts recognize the far-reaching implications caused by drunk drivers.
It should be noted, as well, that an incident such as this can have a devastating emotional toll on the DUI offender, as well. Mr. Fleet will have to live the rest of his life knowing that he killed an innocent person. His last fling before his court date on his previous DUI charge caused him to do the unthinkable. His family also, while they have not permanently lost a family member, will lose him temporarily during his time in jail.
Another reason to hire an experienced lawyer can be peace of mind for family members who are already struggling to make sense of their loss.
The last thing grieving families want is to spend countless hours in court or poring over legal documents. The right lawyer can help restore at least the financial well-being of a family so the healing process can begin.