If someone negligently or recklessly causes a collision that ends another person’s life, they can be held accountable in more than one way. The state may pursue a criminal case against the driver for what they’ve done, while family members of the victim can pursue a claim in civil court, instead.
The civil case, known as a wrongful death lawsuit, is what allows your family to seek compensation for the loss of someone you love and hold the driver accountable for their actions.
Take for example a recent case in Chicago. A woman had a bond set at $500,000 after she was arrested for her involvement in a crash caused by driving under the influence. She allegedly had a blood alcohol concentration of .176% as well as illegal narcotics in her body at the time when she was driving. One person, a 33-year-old man who was said to be the woman’s fiancée, was killed when the woman went off the roadway.
Why 2 different approaches may be necessary
You may naturally feel that a driver who is so reckless with the safety of others deserves criminal prosecution — but convictions aren’t always easily won. The standard of proof — “beyond a reasonable doubt” — for a criminal conviction is very high.
By comparison, wrongful death claims use the “by a preponderance of the evidence” standard, which means that you can hold a driver accountable even if the criminal court cannot. In addition, a civil claim allows victims or their families to recover financial compensation for their losses. It’s also important to remember that passengers in a negligent or reckless driver’s vehicle have the same rights as any other victims.
If your loved one is killed in a crash by a drunk driver, find out more about your legal options today. There should be some accountability for what happened.