The parents of a Missouri girl have reached a settlement in the wrongful death case they filed on her behalf. According to sources close to the case, Andy and Debbie Smallwood have been awarded $50,000 to be paid by American Family Insurance Group.
In December of 2008, 17-year-old Jarub Baird was driving near Carthage, Missouri. According to police, Baird was speeding and lost control of his vehicle as a result. Baird’s car struck the Smallwoods’ vehicle, killing 15-year-old Hannah Smallwood instantly. Another passenger in the vehicle suffered a brain injury as a result of the collision. Baird and his passenger were relatively unharmed in the accident, suffering only minor injuries.
Baird currently is serving a jail sentence for manslaughter and vehicular assault.
According to Missouri law, a person causes involuntary manslaughter if said person recklessly causes the death of another person. Vehicular manslaughter generally results in a year’s imprisonment in Missouri, with fines of up to $5,000. Alternative sentences could include 60 days’ community service, either in lieu of or in addition to jail time served. Sentences for vehicular assault tend to vary based on the case’s circumstances.
Baird was not intoxicated at the time of the accident — otherwise the charges could have been far more serious, possibly into the realm of voluntary manslaughter.
As for the settlement terms, no one can fault the Smallwoods for taking the terms offered by Baird’s insurance company. That said, many people may wonder if $50,000 is anything close to an appropriate amount for this kind of circumstance. Baird likely will serve a year or two in prison, pay a fine and be released into society again in short order, while Hannah Smallwood will still be dead. In addition, this case has been pending for over a year, and that’s often considered a short time to settle. Cases like these clearly illustrate the need for strong victims’ advocacy attorneys.