I’ve received a heartfelt response to my recent blog, Michigan’s Auto Accident Law Protects Drunk Drivers, Not Accident Victims, from the mother of the actual car accident victim in the Michigan Court of Appeals case Wayne Cottrill v. Craig Kenneth Senter (No. 285216).
In Cottrill v. Senter, a drunk driver with a .30 blood alcohol level slammed head-on into a car carrying an 11-year-old boy named Anthony. Anthony sustained multiple personal injuries, including fractures to his foot, wrist, hand and ribs. He missed months from school and had to drop out of the many activities he participated in before the car crash, like football. But thanks to Michigan’s car accident law Kreiner v. Fischer, Senter didn’t face any civil consequences for his actions. Unfortunately, as a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen many legitimate auto accident cases thrown out of court because of Kreiner. Meanwhile, many honest accident victims continue to suffer.
Mrs. Cottrill’s letter speaks for itself:
Just wanted to thank you for your thoughts you put into our sons appeal on June 23, 2009. Anthony Kelsey was the 8th grader who was hit head on by a drunk driver. Yes, I feel my son was raped by someone else’s actions and our son has to take it.
The courts are wrong for watching our (MI) children suffer from horrible and tragic events and not give our children justice! He was 13 for goodness sake and now is 17; he wasn’t sure what was going on. He went by what people told him or questioned him in a certain way. A 13 year old boy has too much pride and really has no clue on the outcome to say, “Yes I hurt”. Anthony said if he knew now, on how he would feel, he stated, “I would never have said I would heal completely to play sports again”. “I was embarrassed and humiliated from the accident and how I functioned afterwards that I just wanted it over.”
He did try wrestling (which hurt his ribs on the left side). He never did play football because he hurt too much. He even lost 30 lbs thinking the weight was the issue. Instead of joining his friends, he went to cheer them on from the bleachers! I guess that’s what they consider full recovery!! Bottom line he still hurts and to this day has never got his quick wit back (thought process), which I miss dearly.
I’m thankful the Lord spared my family of the loss of a loved one, but why should (the Court) judge on how he feels and will feel years from now? My family is modest and very forgiving, but when your children miss the best time of their lives playing sports and having fun, it really hurts in more than one way. Who knows, maybe he was that good to have earned a scholarship.
Senter is a family man who didn’t hold his values like our family. He now drives a very nice car. Yes, he can drive already after what he has done. It seems he has gained from his horrible actions, while my family is still hurting and always in pain.
My thought is what values is this teaching our kids? Drinking and driving with a slap on the wrist? Legislation doesn’t care! Michigan is hurting financially, why would anyone want to live in a state that doesn’t stand up for your rights?
Thanks for your thoughts, we share the same.
As I said before, our Michigan auto accident law was not supposed to create results like this one. It was originally created to protect drivers from clearly “frivolous” and “de minimus” injuries; not to award a drunk driver for hurting a child.
Please contact your legislators. Tell them this law must be changed so drunk drivers can be held accountable in court for the injuries they cause.
— Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top experts in serious car and truck accident injury cases and automobile insurance no-fault litigation. Steve has received the largest jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in four of the past seven years, including 2008, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
— Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, Jayel Aheram
Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Southfield, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. If you have been in a car accident at the hands of a drunk driver, call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with an auto accident lawyer.