A West Virginia driver has recently learned that he will not face further repercussions from criminal charges filed against him after a fatal car accident. Originally, charges were filed against the young driver after the car accident, but they were subsequently dropped after an agreement formulated between his attorney and the county prosecutor. However, it is important to keep in mind that criminal charges are separate from civil litigation.
The accident took place in Sept. 2012 as the man was driving himself and some friends home after they had been drinking. An accident occurred, and a 23-year-old passenger was killed upon impact. The driver was found with a small amount of alcohol in his system, but it was below the legal limit in West Virginia. After a crash investigation, it was determined that speed and reckless driving contributed to the crash.
Authorities determined that the facts established did not rise to the level of negligent homicide. Accordingly, the prosecutor found it necessary to drop all charges against the driver. Nevertheless, it is possible that civil litigation could be the next step for the family of the deceased. Even if he will not serve jail time, sufficient evidence may exist to prove that he was driving negligently in a manner that caused or contributed to the fatal accident. The fact that the deceased victim was not wearing a seatbelt could also be an important factor in assigning fault for the tragedy.
Personal injury or wrongful death litigation is not dependent upon criminal charges, and a conviction is not necessary to proceed with a civil claim for financial damages. The family may elect to evaluate all possible options for seeking a judgment for monetary damages to cover the funeral and burial costs as well as other losses recognized by West Virginia laws. A claim must be backed by viable and relevant evidence from the car accident, establishing that the death of their loved one was a direct result of the actions of the driver.
Source: weirtondailytimes.com, Charges are dismissed in fatal accident, Stephen Huba, March 20, 2014