Man Pleads Guilty in Drunk Driving Death of His Passenger

Date: March 19, 2013
Location: Southwest Gassner and Grabhorn roads, Aloha
Name: Kalin Rose Morris, Scott Davis Harris

The driver of the car that crashed in Aloha on October 6, 2012, and lead to the death of a 20-year-old woman has pleaded guilty.

Scott David Harris, 23, has pleaded guilty to drinking and driving resulting in a crash that killed his passenger Kalin Rose Morris, 20, last year.

Harris crashed his white Pontiac Grand Am into a tree in the early hours of the morning and walked away from the site leaving his injured girlfriend pinned and alive in the car. Morris was suffering from severe internal bleeding and died at OSHU Hospital. A police dog tracked Harris about a mile away from the site two-hours after the accident.

Harris pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter, hit-and-run, felony, and driving under the influence of intoxicants. Harris also apologized to Morris’ family saying he felt horrible about it. He also expressed the hope that others would think about this before drinking and driving.

Morris is survived by her parents and her younger sister. We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the dead woman.

If you were hurt by a drunk driver, special time limits may apply for filing a claim.

Under ORS 471.565, you can sue the establishment that served the drunk driver alcohol (assuming there was one) by filing a Dram Shop Notice within 180 days. In fatal accidents, this time limit is one year after the crash.

A Dram Shop Notice is a special letter that tells the establishment or person who served the alcohol that a claim for damages is being made against the establishment, a description of the time, place, and circumstances giving rise to the claim, and the name and mailing address for the person making the claim. If the drunk driving led to not just an injury, but death, then you have a year instead of 180 days. Basically, a Dram Shop Notice will hold a bar owner responsible for not training employees according to the OLCC’s guidelines regarding intoxicated drinkers.

If the drunk driver was not at a bar or other business that serves alcohol before the crash, there is still the possibility of filing a claim through auto insurance. And in many cases, the drunk driver will also be punished in a criminal court. Although being found guilty for criminal charges can increase the likelihood of a civil personal injury case succeeding, you may still need the help of a drunk driving accident injury lawyer to deal with adjusters and use all the evidence correctly.

Oregon wrongful death claims are allowed under ORS 30.010-30.100. But the law is much more complicated than a normal accident case. First of all, the statute of limitations (time limit on filing a claim) is different.  For most car accidents, the SOL is 2 years, but for wrongful death, the SOL is “three years after the injury causing the death . . . is discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. . . .”  In other words, it’s not three years from the date of death; it’s three years from the date of the original injury that ultimately caused the death.

Additionally, there are limits on who can bring a wrongful death claim. The most common claimants are:

  • Spouses
  • Children (including stepchildren)
  • Parents (including stepparents)

Less common claimants include:

  • Grandchildren
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents

In a wrongful death case, you can ask for compensation for several types of damages as well.

Compensatory damages include.

  • Charges for medical services;
  • Charges for burial and memorial services;
  • Compensation that the decedent would have been entitled to for disability, pain, suffering and loss of income during the period between injury and death;
  • Compensation for “pecuniary loss” to the decedent’s estate;
  • Compensation for the loss of the decedent’s “society, companionship and services” to the decedent’s spouse, children, stepchildren, stepparents, and parents

Punitive damages are allowed as well, but are rare in Oregon since the State takes 70% of punitive damages awarded. If you have lost a loved one, call a Portland wrongful death attorney for help in securing the compensation you deserve.

Portland Oregon Wrongful Death Attorneys

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About Sean DuBois

Sean is a personal injury attorney in Portland, OR. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as Oregon Rising Stars for the past four years because of his dedication to justice and fair compensation for his clients. If you need to speak with a lawyer about your injury case, Sean can be reached at 503-222-4411.

Posted on March 26, 2013, in Car Accidents, Drunk Driving, Hit and Run, Wrongful Death and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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