The sound of screeching tires and shattering glass pierced the peaceful night in a quiet New York City neighbourhood. What followed was a scene of chaos and destruction, as a reckless driver plowed his parents' Mercedes into the home of two elderly sisters, causing extensive damage. The driver, Daniel Sajewski, Jr., had a blood alcohol level of .30 and a history of reckless driving, leaving no doubt as to his fault in the accident.
However, what unfolded next was a series of unexpected twists and turns that complicated the legal proceedings, including an attempt to shift blame onto his girlfriend and an insurance company demanding repayment of the hefty sum it had paid out for a new home. This cautionary tale serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of dangerous and irresponsible behaviour behind the wheel.
Initially, Daniel Sajewski, Jr. admitted that he took the car without his father's permission and was fully responsible for what happened. Because of all of his warrants, Sajweski, Jr. was sentenced to 18 months to three years in jail, but his father became angry when the courts would not allow Junior to take financial responsibility for the accident.
The courts said that because Junior had free access to the family home and the keys to the car, that permission to drive the car was implied. In that instance, it is the owner of the car who is responsible for any damage that would occur. In New York State, it is actually very difficult for the owner of a vehicle to shed responsibility for what happens with their vehicle unless that vehicle was stolen. Since Junior had ready access to the home and keys, Senior could not report the vehicle stolen.
Once the courts had decided with a decision and an appeal decision that Senior was the one financially responsible for what happened, the company immediately filed a $180,000 lawsuit in civil court against Sajewski, Sr. Despite several unsuccessful attempts to have responsibility shifted to Sajewski, Jr., the courts allowed the civil lawsuit to go through and for Sajewski, Sr. to be named as the responsible party.
No one was injured in the accident, including the two sisters. But had someone been injured, it is possible that both Sajewskis could have been held accountable in a personal injury lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit could have named either just Sajewski, Sr. as the responsible party, or it may have brought both father and son into the lawsuit.
Sajewski, Jr.'s girlfriend has not filed a personal injury lawsuit for being talked into taking the rap for the accident. A person under duress and being forced into doing something they may not want to do could conceivably sue for damages. As of now, that lawsuit has not been filed.
When it comes to a personal injury lawsuit, determining responsibility is extremely important. In many cases, the line from an accident to the responsible party is not always a straight line, and that can make the law even more confusing.