A 25 year old reckless driver Ramon Pineda caused a deadly motorcycle-car crash this past Sunday, killing an off-duty Flint police officer, Vincent Owen, age 26, of Goodrich. According to witnesses, Pineda was driving a Camaro about 8 p.m. Sunday on Sashabaw when he rear-ended the motorcycle driven by D’Anna. Pineda, attempted to run from the accident, and was restrained by witnesses. Although this inebriated illegal driver was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, and driving on a suspended license, how will criminal prosecution help this motorcyclist’s family in a practical way? Is criminal prosecution of this scoff-law enough? Although putting a reckless driver behind bars makes us all feel a bit better, only a civil claim through the court or an insurance claim under the uninsured motorist provisions of D’Anna’s own motorcycle policy will help his provide his family compensation for their loss. This family should proceed with a civil claim for wrongful death. Given the profile of the reckless driver, he is probably poorly insured, so the family of Mr. D’Anna should consult with a good attorney to proceed with an uninsured claim under D’Anna’s own policy.
The driver who caused this wrongful death had illegally slipped into the U.S. from Mexico about 10 years ago, according to police. Federal authorities have been advised of his arrest. Throwing Pineda in jail or out of the country will do nothing to pay for funeral expenses or to put food on the table of D’Anna’s family. The criminal courts help society at large, while it takes the civil justice system to provide a remedy to the actual persons harmed.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.