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Family of Kansas City texting crash victim settles case

A defendant convicted of a Crawford County crime may or may not be punished with fines and imprisonment. A defendant in a liability lawsuit is held accountable for negligence by paying damages to a victim or a victim's family. Trials are avoided in criminal court with a guilty plea and in personal injury and wrongful death cases with a settlement.

The relatives of a Kansas City, Missouri, woman accepted a settlement for a legal claim over a fatal car crash. The defendant's insurers will pay $200,000 to the 72-year-old accident victim's children and grandchildren.

The liability case was filed after a September 2011 Kansas City accident that claimed a Camden Point, Missouri, woman's life. Reports say the victim died in an attempt to prevent a collision. She pulled her vehicle off the road to avoid an erratic driver.

Police said a teen driver was blasting music and responding to text messages when her vehicle struck the grandmother's car. The victim died from crash injuries. The granddaughter who had accompanied her suffered neck and arm injuries.

The teen was arrested for the texting violation, assault and involuntary manslaughter. The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a two-day "shock" jail term, a short period of house arrest, five years of probation and mandatory community service.

Within four months, the young woman's probation for assault was revoked. The court learned the teen drank alcohol at a party she hosted at her parents' home while they were away. She resigned a job and moved in with a boyfriend.

The teen was ordered to spend a year in jail, a term that may be extended to four years after a hearing next month.

Damages are awarded when a civil jury is convinced of a defendant's negligence, the unintentional or willful disregard of another person's safety. Plaintiffs are sometimes advised to accept a settlement in place of a trial.

Source:  kansascity.com, "Settlement close in texting-driver lawsuit" Glenn E. Rice, Jun. 14, 2013

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