A wrongful death lawsuit can sometimes help a family facing unexpected challenges following a tragic accident.

A Worcester newspaper recently reported that a man in a neighboring town has been sentenced for up to three years in prison for striking and killing a woman with his car. This fatal accident killed a college math professor who was walking home from the gym when she was hit. The man was also sentenced to five years probation and will not be able to have a driver’s license for 15 years. The man pleaded guilty to motor vehicle homicide in the death of the professor, and he pleaded guilty to operating under the influence of drugs. He had marijuana and prescription drugs in his system at the time of the accident but not all of the drugs had been prescribed to him by a doctor.

Following a fatal accident, a wrongful death cause of action may be pursued by those who have suffered the unexpected loss of a loved one. A wrongful death occurs as a result of the negligence of an individual, company or another type of entity. In cases when the negligent party was cited or criminally charged in the fatal accident for some type of infraction or other violation of the law, a legal theory known as “negligence per se” may help family members recover compensation for their loss. According to negligence per se, the existence of traffic violations on the part of the other driver can be used to constitute negligence. In some cases, this will successfully prove the liability of the party from which the family is seeking damages.

There are several types of damages available to family members of a lost loved one following a wrongful death. Compensation may include damages for financial injuries that the family has suffered as a result of the wrongful death — such as the loss of support and services that the deceased loved one contributed to the family, lost prospect of inheritance and medical and funeral expenses. Emotional damages arising from the loss include loss of consortium, loss of companionship and pain and suffering damages.

Those who have lost a loved one in a fatal accident must confront many emotional and, possibly, financial challenges as a result of the wrongful death. The legal system is available in such cases, by providing the opportunity for compensation, which may help ease the overwhelming burden that can result after a loss.

Source: Telegram.com, “Mass. man gets up to 3 years for pedestrian death,” Feb. 13, 2013