Articles Posted in Fatality Claims

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A few weeks ago, the Marco Muzzo sentencing grabbed national headlines. In case you don’t know about the Marco Muzzo case; here’s the gist.

Mr. Muzzo was driving drunk in York Region. His drunk driving led to a fatal car crash which killed 4 people. It was a tragic collision. At our law firm, we don’t refer to these collisions as “accidents“. Accidents are by their very nature, unintentional acts. You mean no harm, although harm may come from your unintentional negligence.

Drunk driving on the other hand is never unintentional. It’s a conscious decision to drink, and then another conscious decision to drive. Every person needs to know or ought to know that whenever you get behind the wheel after you’ve had a drink or two puts the lives and safety of other motorists at risk.

Mr. Muzzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He received 8 months credit for time spent in prison pre-sentencing. That means that he will only need to serve 9 years and 4 months in jail. Upon release from prison, he will be prohibited from driving for 12 years.  He will be eligible for parole and an early release. When that time comes is up to the Court. In my informal poll of criminal lawyers, the consensus is that if Mr. Muzzo is a model prisoner, he may get parole in around 3 years or so.

Think about that long and hard. If Mr. Muzzo, having made a conscious decision to drink and drive and kill 4 people is out on parole in 3-4 years, does that punishment/penalty fit the crime? Conversely, does 9 years and 4 months of jail time fit the crime?

Finding the right balance between penalty, punishment, deterrent and rehabilitation/reintegration of an offender is a difficult balance. This is one of the hallmarks of Canada’s criminal justice system. The goal of the justice system is not only justice, but it’s to rehabilitate and reintegrate offenders so that they can become productive members to society.

This same delicate balancing act does NOT apply to the civil justice system. Nobody is doing jail time (unless they’re found in contempt of Court or in repeated breach of a Court Order) for having caused damage to others.

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Just after 4 p.m. this past Sunday, Gary and Neriza Neville were driving with their grandchildren – Daniel, 9, Harry, 5, and Millie Neville-Lake, 2 – and the children’s great-grandmother Josephina Frias when an SUV operated by Marco Muzzo slammed into the side of their minivan at an intersection north of Toronto. Mr. Neville and all three children died of their injuries.

The parents of the children, Edward Neville and Jennifer Neville-Lake, were not in the minivan. Ms. Neville-Lake learned of the collision while watching TV news at home and has called the loss “the worst nightmare.”

The cause of the collision appears to have been drunk driving. Charges have been laid, but nothing has yet to be proven in Court.

Many of the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog readers, and non-readers heard about this tragic quadruple fatality claim. It brings to light a number of legal issues which I would like to clarity regarding drunk driving laws, and how damages work for drunk driving claims along with Court penalties for drunk driving.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about drunk driving and fatality/wrongful death claims:

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Received a few calls wanting commentary on the recent fatal accident involving a 7 year old. The accident took place at intersection of Millwood Road and McRae Drive, south of Eglinton Avenue in Toronto in an affluent area of the City known as Leaside. The intersection has a baseball diamond nearby, a park and a children’s summer camp as well. Kids play in that area.

The facts of the case are still rather murky. All we know for certainty is that the child was struck by a van trying to make a right hand turn. No charges have been laid. Police continue to investigate this matter. Speed may or may not be an issue in this case. We’re still not certain.

Dignitaries and politicians attended at the child’s funeral including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Kathleen Wynne. Any funeral attended both by the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario is going to be a big story.

A fund raiser for Sick Kids in memory of the child raised well over $55K.

To say that the accident was a big deal and a big news story is an understatement. This car accident received national media attention.
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