COLUMBUS, GA - Northside High student, 16-year-old Hannah Gilmer was killed in a car accident on County Line Road back on June 15, 2012. According to police records, Hannah's 17-year-old boyfriend, Clayton Qualls, was driving her 2006 Toyota Scion under the influence of alcohol when he lost control of the car before spinning out, flipping the car several times and eventually striking a tree.
The accident occurred at a little after 11 o'clock on Friday night, June 15, 2012.
Ms. Gilmer was ejected from the car during the accident and, according to the accident report, neither of the teens were wearing their seat belts.
Qualls survived the accident but Ms. Gilmer was pronounced dead just after 1AM on June 16, 2012.
Clayton has been charged with numerous traffic charges, which include 1st degree vehicular homicide, DUI, and improper lane change. The underage drinking charges are not the first Qualls has faced. On June 4, 2012, he was arrested on charges of DUI under 21 and minor in possession of alcohol.
"My heart goes out to this young woman's family. This is such an awful tragedy. I know the family is suffering a tremendous loss," said attorney Gary Martin Hays.
This wreck really points out some important lessons for parents and their teenagers. "People should never get behind the wheel and drive a vehicle after they have been drinking, and in the case of this 17-year-old boy, he should never have been drinking at all." Hays stresses how important it is to talk with your children about the dangers of under age drinking.
It is also extremely important to remind people to always wear their seatbelts. According to the CDC, "Seat belt use is on the rise. Laws, education, and technology have increased seat belt use from 11% in 1981 to nearly 85% in 2010, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Yet, about 1 in 7 people still don't buckle up."
Gary Martin Hays is a very active supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D) and has served on the state advisory council in Georgia. He has also sponsored a fundraiser for M.A.D.D , Strides for Change, in support of their mission.
If a drunk driver is negligent in causing an accident, their insurance company is responsible for compensating the victims of the accident. In a case such as this, the family may pursue a claim for wrongful death and seek punitive damages since the defendant was allegedly driving under the influence. Other parties that may be responsible for compensating victims could include an establishment that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual or a homeowner who hosts a private party where the drinks/drugs were served.
Fatal accidents such as this can cause extreme emotional and financial stress. The unexpected loss and sudden grief can be devastating to the victim's loved ones. It is very important that families of the victims know that they have every right to seek legal advice and they may be eligible for financial compensation.
Here at the Law Offices of Gary Martin Hays, we have an expertly trained staff of professionals ready to assist you in your wrongful death claim. We have recently expanded our offices from Atlanta to Savannah, making our services available to all Georgia residents. Call us today for your FREE legal consultation: 1-800-898-HAYS.