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Driver is on trial for killing a 2007 bicyclist while impaired and texting.

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James E. Ballidis
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Driver is on trial for killing a 2007 bicyclist while impaired and texting.

Jeffery Woods, while operating his car, was on therapeutic levels of Xanax and Vicodin and may have been text messaging when he struck fourteen year old Danny Oates killing him in Huntington Beach.  The defense contends that Woods had a seizure, and therefore, required the medication.  Of course, that does little to explain why he was texting.

Expert testimony, according to The Orange County Register Thursday, October 15, 2009 article, was presented by the District Attorney demonstrating that the combination of Xanax, a high anxiety medication, and Vicodin would make it difficult for Woods to maintain a speed, react to hazards and watch for other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists.  Add the distraction of texting gives a probable explanation why he had the collision. 

The attorney for Woods claims that Woods actually had a seizure during the crash and had no control over the vehicle.  In a personal injury case, if an individual has a seizure and it is an unexpected occurrence, there is no civil liability because there is no intentional or negligent breach of duty.

In 2007, our office was successful in prosecuting a civil action against a driver who had sustained seizures before and after the accident.  While the contention in the civil court was that the driver could not anticipate a seizure, medical records showed that his seizure was normally not under control, and in fact, he should have limited his ability to drive on his own accord.

Woods is accused of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated.  Woods had to take such medications in order to control his seizures, he too would have been well advised to discontinue driving, and his explanation after the death of the young boy is simply not acceptable in this attorney’s opinion. 

I see the harm caused by selfish, impaired drivers.  It is time for people who drive vehicles to be responsible for their actions, whether it is the consumption of alcohol and drugs before getting behind a wheel, or their medical condition.  We hope the Oates family finds the justice they seek from an Orange County jury for the untimely death of their son, which cannot be reversed by the narcissistic decision of an impaired driver.

Category: Car Accidents

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