The story of Diane Schuler’s death continues to unfold. After a toxicology report stated Ms. Schuler was under the influence of marijuana and had blood alcohol level of 0.19 at the time of the crash, her husband Daniel claimed the report must be inaccurate. He went on to even say he’s never seen her drunk during their marriage. I hope for his sake he is telling the truth about his wife’s alcoholism, but it seems like reports are starting to surface which say otherwise.
Mr. Schuler has had issues with drinking in the past. In 1995, Mr. Schuler was arrested for DWI. While this was 15 years ago, it certainly hurts his credibility. The five year old survivor may be the only one who will be able to tell investigators what was really going on, but even then, the story will be incomplete. Suffolk County Child Services is now investigating Mr. Schuler, to see if he had any role in the events leading up to the crash. Mr. Schuler’s own independent investigator stated that the vodka bottle found near the crash may have been packed by Mr. Schuler earlier that day. If she doesn’t drink, why was a bottle of vodka packed?
It’s truly a tragic story. While some believe placing blame in this story is inappropriate considering the insurmountable loss experienced by both everyone involved, it doesn’t change the fact that seven people died because of Mrs. Schuler’s actions.
The question that must be asked as the investigation continues: will the victims’ families be rightfully compensated? The answer is not quite clear yet. One way is to investigate the signage in the area. It’s been reported that there were one way and “do not enter” signs at the intersection to warn motorists it was the wrong way, but nothing on the ramp once entered. Even so, it may be difficult to prove that this was a cause-in-fact of the crash, considering Ms. Schuler’s state of mind. You can be sure that every stone will be turned.
Then there’s the Schuler’s insurance policy, as well as the policies of the other drivers. Without knowing specifics, it’s difficult to tell what the victims will receive from the policies, but it will surely be grossly inadequate.
The dram shop act in NY may apply if new facts are revealed, but at this time it doesn’t seem likely it will be brought up (I talk about TN’s dram shop act in an earlier post here). Most likely, the civil litigation is going to revolve around the investigations ongoing: What role did Mr. Schuler really have in his wife’s addiction?
It’s too early to assume Mr. Schuler’s contribution to the accident in this story, but as more information is received, I will discuss the effect it will have on the upcoming litigation. Right now this story is the perfect example of why you engage an attorney as soon as possible after a wreck.