In addition to criminal penalties a drunk driver may face, a civil cause of action for wrongful death can also often be brought against the negligent driver.

A Massachusetts man was in Worcester Superior Court recently on drunk driving charges related to an accident that caused the death of a bread truck delivery driver. The fatal accident resulted when the alleged drunk driver rear ended the delivery truck. The drunk driver’s vehicle never stopped and police were able to follow a fluid leak from the accident to it. The alleged drunk driver pleaded not guilty to manslaughter by motor vehicle and motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol.

In addition to criminal penalties drunk drivers may face, victims and family members of victims may be able to also pursue civil liability against drunk, or negligent, drivers that have caused harm. A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of lawsuit that is brought by surviving family members, such as a spouse, child or sometimes parent, of a lost loved one that was killed as a result of another person’s negligence. The lawsuit will be brought by the personal representative of the deceased loved one’s estate for the benefit of the family members.

The family members may receive compensation for economic damages, including loss of support and services, lost prospect of inheritance, as well as medical and funeral expenses. While calculations surrounding damages for a lost loved one can sometimes be sensitive, they are usually based on the deceased loved one’s circumstances when they were killed. For example, the main parts of recovery for the loss of an adult wage earner with a dependent are loss of income and loss of parental guidance. The deceased loved one’s income at the time of death and potential future earnings may be considered when determining compensation.

A fatal car crash leaves many types of victims. The legal process is designed to try to help victims recover in more ways than just one.

Source: Masslive.com, “Auburn man pleads not guilty to causing fatal accident,” Author Unknown, May 1, 2013.