A man who was injured in an auto accident in East Haven sued the town and a police officer, claiming that the town and the officer were negligent in allowing an allegedly intoxicated driver to continue to drive. According to the lawsuit, the officer contacted the driver in a parking lot and found the driver to be “highly agitated and unlicensed.”

The civil complaint goes on to say that the officer was acquainted with the driver, who was reportedly involved in a dispute inside a van. The van also did not have the correct license plates, and the driver did not have proof of insurance.

Nevertheless, the officer transported the driver to his nearby residence without impounding the van. Later, the driver returned to the parking lot and drove the van some distance before striking and injuring the plaintiff.

Police arrested the van driver the following day, and more than a year later, he was found guilty of third-degree assault, as well as evading responsibility. He was not found guilty of driving while under the influence, though the plaintiff’s lawsuit asserted that the driver was intoxicated.

A DUI conviction is not needed, however, if a plaintiff believes that a driver’s intoxication (or some other form of negligence) led to the plaintiff’s injuries. In this particular case, the plaintiff sought to hold the police officer and the town of East Haven liable for negligence. A jury sided with the injured man, though only the town was named in the verdict.

As compensation for his medical bills and other costs, the jury awarded the plaintiff $12.2 million.

Even when a criminal court doesn’t return a conviction after a serious auto accident, injured Connecticut residents should keep in mind that other avenues of legal justice may be available.

Source: FOX CT, “Jury Awards $12.2 Million Verdict Against Town Of East Haven,” Dec. 12, 2013