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Wrongful death action may follow criminal charges

One factor to possibly consider in evaluating whether a civil action should be brought as a result of a fatal accident is whether police filed criminal charges against one of the drivers involved. This determination can assist the victim's family in determining whether they wish to file a wrongful death action in a Missouri civil court in order for them to seek compensatory and possibly other damages permitted under our state laws. In a recent fatal accident, a man has been criminally charged for being involved in an accident that killed a 9-year-old boy, though it is as yet unclear if the parents of the child are considering a civil lawsuit as well.

Police say the man was under the influence of alcohol at the time his truck struck another vehicle. Police assert that the man crossed over the center line, which caused the collision. As a result of the impact, the boy was transported to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Three others in the vehicle were also injured. Police have since charged the 32-year-old man with manslaughter, among other charges. It is unclear when the man will appear in court to answer to the charges.

In some cases, the filing of a wrongful death action can closely coincide with the initiation of a criminal action by Missouri law enforcement authorities. The civil action may be able to utilize the evidence presented in the criminal case to bolster the civil claim. If the criminal matter results in a conviction, this could go a long way in proving to the judge or jury in the civil case that the defendant should also be held civilly liable for monetary damages to the victim's family.

Source: The Rolla Daily News, "Crossover accident charges filed," James Crossed, Dec. 3, 2012

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