Jaleesa Gonzalez, age 4, was killed in Fort Meyers, Florida after she was run over by a pick up truck that was driving in reverse. According to traffic homicide detectives, Damon J. Drouin, age 43, was the person who allegedly drove the truck.
The accident allegedly happened at approximately 5:12pm as Drouin and another person did repair work on a 2005 Chevy Silverado pickup. Drouin and a friend were supposedly working on the truck’s car stereo outside the girl’s home.
Drouin was supposedly asked to move the truck backwards so that the repair work could be completed. This is when Jaleesa Gonzalez was struck. (Photo credit: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)
For his actions, Drouin has been arrested for driving with a suspended license causing death, driving on a suspended license three or more times, and, driving on a suspended license as a habitual traffic offender. According to news reports, Drouin also has a history for DUI, although it is not known whether alcohol or drugs played a role in this car accident.
As an injury lawyer, I can tell you that this case is one that will settle out of court. First, lets discuss liability. Assuming that there is sufficient evidence that places Drouin behind he wheel of the car, it is clear that he is absolutely responsible for this accident.
Not only did Drouin have a duty to yield to a pedestrian, but he had a special duty of care when driving the truck in reverse. Anytime someone backs their vehicle out, he or she must be extremely careful to avoid hitting others, even if they are in a residential are where there are few pedestrians.
However, if this case were to go to trial, defense lawyers would certainly make an issue about the adult or adults who were supposedly watching Jaleesa Gonzalez’s in the moments before the car accident. However, such a defense would be pathetic because jurors would undoubtedly sympathize with the fact that the little girl was killed.
Secondly, the damages are very clear. Anytime a person loses their life, they clearly have suffered the worst kind of injury possible. Especially where the victim in this case is 4 year old little girl, jurors would be expect to give a high award.
Even though this case presents an instance of winning liability and winning injuries, the ultimate question will come down to insurance coverage. This is where an experienced injury lawyer comes in.
Figuring out who had insurance and how much those policies are worth, will be one of the most important aspects of litigating this case. For instance, one question will concern the actual location of the accident. Did it happen in a drive way? On someone’s lawn? Or did it happen on the public roadway. If the accident happened on private property or even partially happened on private property, a claim may possibly be brought against the homeowner’s insurance.
At the end of the day, this case is extremely tragic and is one that will certainly effect the lives of many people. I am sure Jaleesa’s family is utterly crushed at this point and are suffering indescribable pain. My heart goes out to them.