Most parents are nervous when their teenagers get their driver’s permit and take on the road as new drivers. Driving comes with a great deal of responsibility because car accidents can result in significant losses and damage. Over time, a parent’s fear likely dissipates as their young adult children gain more years of experience on the road. Years of experience, however, do not completely obviate fatal accidents,. There is always a risk when driving.
These statistics were brought to life for a Milan father, who recently lost a son and step-son in a fatal car accident. The 20 and 22-year-old young men died as a result of a head-on collision on a Saturday night while driving on Magnolia Beach Road. The 22-year-old son was driving eastbound in a vehicle in which his brother was a passenger. A driver, who was heading in the opposite direction and is believed to have been impaired, crossed over into oncoming traffic and hit the boys head-on. The father now grieves the loss of both of his sons.
Although the criminal investigation is still pending and it is unclear whether the other driver will face any criminal charges, the father and other family members may have the option of beginning civil proceedings against the other driver for negligence. Criminal proceedings are distinct from civil cases. The boys’ father may be eligible to file a wrongful death action even if criminal charges are never filed or the criminal case proceeds more slowly.
There are actually other significant differences between civil and criminal cases arising from the same car accident that results in the loss of a loved one. For example, the standard of proof is different. It is much easier for a family member to succeed in a wrongful death suit. In civil cases, the standard of proof is only a preponderance of the evidence. This is in contrast to the evidentiary standard that the prosecution carries in criminal cases, which is beyond a reasonable doubt.
Thus, although the prosecution may have a difficult time demonstrating that a driver was the criminal cause of another individual’s death, a family member does not need to overcome this heavy burden in a wrongful death case. It may be easier to win the wrongful death case.
Source: The Berlin Daily Sun, “Milan man loses sons in Louisana crash,” Debra Thornblad, July 30, 2013