The loss of a loved one is inherently traumatic and the financial harm following a fatal accident may only add to the tragedy. A pedestrian was recently struck and killed in a community about an hour from Worcester. Police and emergency responders found the victim in the middle of the street; unfortunately, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. A 35-year-old man was subsequently arrested in the death of the 34-year-old victim and charged with leaving the scene of a crash that caused injury or death, as well as with homicide via motor vehicle. The accident reconstruction team and other police agencies are investigating the accident.

In some situations, the legal system offers criminal and civil consequences for behavior that is harmful to others. The two types of actions, criminal and civil, have different standards of proof that must be met for the party accused of a crime or negligence to be found guilty or liable. In the criminal system, the guilt of the accused party must be established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” In the civil system, the standard of proof for liability is considered somewhat lower and is based on a “preponderance of the evidence.”

When a family has lost a loved one in an accident wherein another party acted negligently, the family can bring a civil lawsuit, referred to as a wrongful death lawsuit, to seek damages for the harm suffered. Liability is commonly established by using a citation or criminal charge as evidence of negligence, but other compelling evidence may exist as well. The damages typically depend on the circumstances of the accident and the characteristics of the victim, but generally, medical and funeral expenses and pain and suffering damages are available to family members of a lost loved one.

Following the loss of a love one, damages may, understandably, not be immediately on a family’s mind. A wrongful death cause of action for damages, however, may help families recover from the complex harm a fatal accident can cause.

Source: 959watd.com, “Brockton: One man killed; another man under arrest following motor vehicle crash,” David Skill, May 4, 2014