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Traffic violation blamed for Kansas passenger's death

How do you comfort a motor vehicle accident victim or their families when injuries or deaths are caused by a preventable mistake? A Kansas driver's decision or indecision can lead to consequences that permanently injure or kill innocent people.

Negligent drivers sometimes downplay choices made leading up to a car accident. Investigators hear excuses like "I only had a couple of drinks" or "I didn't see the pedestrian." At-fault drivers can hesitate to connect poor personal judgment with painful or fatal consequences. The misery is very real for those who suffer due to someone else's bad driving choices.

A young Olathe man died when the car in which he was a passenger was struck by another vehicle. Police say the 22-year-old's life was cut short because the driver ignored a stop sign. Five people, excluding the 23-year-old male driver, were hospitalized with serious injuries.

The midday accident occurred at an intersection south of Kansas City, outside Lamar, Missouri. A pickup truck T-boned the passenger side of the Chevrolet Impala as the car moved unexpectedly through an intersection. The pickup flipped over when the vehicles careened off the road.

All five adults in the truck, ages 20 to 32, were hurt. Two Lamar residents, the 30-year-old woman driver and a 32-year-old passenger, suffered life-threatening injuries. Reports appeared to indicate surviving passengers in the Impala escaped injury. Police said the man who died had not been wearing a seat belt.

Rural Kansas intersections tempt drivers to disregard posted stop signs. Drivers who think they know local traffic patterns might assume that a crossroads won't be busy. Dismissing a stop sign seems like no big deal until the decision results in injuries or loss of life.

Victims have a legal outlet even when no crime occurs during an accident. Civil claims allow harmed plaintiffs to recover monetary awards for damages linked to negligence.

Source:  kansascity.com, "Olathe man killed in southwest Missouri crash" Judy L. Thomas, Sep. 15, 2013

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