Arkansas DUI Hit-and-Run Victim Awarded $900,000
Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Attorney, Meredith Moore, represented Jaylin Anderson after he was run over by a drunk driver in Jacksonville of February 2018. Sharon Shinn, the defendant in this case, is a repeat offender, and has had five DUIs in three years. Anderson was out for a run, was hit by Shinn’s car from behind and “run over like a speedbump,” as witnesses recall. Anderson doesn’t recall what happened, just that he felt pain instantly.
In court, Moore sought compensation for Anderson’s injuries and what he lost, along with punitive damages. Moore says, “It makes an example out of somebody that is continuously taking part in this kind of unlawful activity, so that hopefully it keeps somebody else from doing it in the future.” The judge awarded Anderson $900,000: $300,000 for compensatory damages and $600,000 for punitive damages. This is more than Anderson was seeking in damages, and he is pleased with the outcome. But, to Anderson, this case is about more than money.
Anderson has been on a hard road to recovery. “I’m just trying to learn to live again. I get angry sometimes – it’s frustrating to have to start over again,” says Anderson. “It’s difficult to have your whole life taken away from you in the blink of an eye.”
Shinn was convicted of a DWI and for leaving the scene of an accident. She served only a few months of a six-year sentence and did not show up when subpoenaed for court.
Preventing Future Crashes from Repeat Offenders
Anderson wants to prevent repeat offenders from continuing to put innocent people at risk and hopes to use his story as an example.
“This is an eye-opener for me, too. I would love to get compensated, but at the same time, I do want this story to be heard,” he said. “I want people to be aware of the actions out there – taking a drink and then getting in the car and driving.”
Moore says, “The purpose of getting punitive damages out of a case like this is to not only send a message to the defendant from that day, this being her 5th DWI, so that hopefully she never does this again, but also to send a message to any other driver in the community.”
Moore and the Rainwater, Holt and Sexton in-house task force are working with Yolanda Holmes, of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to strengthen laws around drunk driving to prevent future injuries and deaths from repeat offenders.
This crash has seriously affected Anderson’s life, and his lawyers hope that this civil judgment will prevent drivers from participating in future unlawful activity.
Repeat Offenders in Arkansas
About 1,000 drunk drivers are arrested in Arkansas each year. The number of drunk driving cases is down throughout the state, but the percentage of multiple offenses in Arkansas is steady.
DUIs are misdemeanors for the first, second and third offenses. In these cases, jail time is often replaced with community service, drivers are required to attend a DUI class and fines can get into the thousands. Judges are required to suspend the driver’s license after these offenses, but they can receive it back earlier if drivers agree to have a breath-controlled ignition lock installed on their vehicle. Only after a driver’s fourth arrest for drunk driving, does it become a felony with increased jail time and steeper fines.
Moore says, “In Arkansas, we’re definitely high on the list of states that have repeat offenders for DWIs, and people that are injured as a result of drunk drivers.” Through her efforts with Holmes and Rainwater, Holt and Sexton, she hopes to reduce these Arkansas statistics by strengthening the law and punishments around repeated drunk driving.