Seeking justice through a wrongful death lawsuit

When an Alameda family loses a loved one in a fatal accident, they naturally look to the criminal justice system to punish the negligent driver proportionately to the pain and suffering inflicted. However, when criminal law falls short, victims' families may have other legal options available.

Take the example of a 40-year-old driver who had been using drugs while she was out driving her SUV back in the fall of 2016. She was facing DUI charges from a previous incident and was out on bail when she struck a car that had pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway. That car's occupants included a mother and three children, one of whom was a 3-year-old boy. The mother was injured, and unfortunately, the 3-year-old boy was killed in the crash.

Recently, the driver plead guilty in court to a manslaughter charge. Prosecutors struck a deal with her in exchange for her plea: she will only serve half of her seven-year sentence. With credit for time already served, she may be free from prison in just two years. The family of the young boy who died expressed outrage that the driver received "a slap on the hand" instead of anything approaching justice for them, the victims.

In scenarios like this - which are far too common in Alameda today - victims' families may want to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent driver. While it can never truly undo the loss and the damage the family has suffered, an award obtained through a wrongful death lawsuit can compensate a family for their financial losses associated with the accident, along with their pain and suffering. It can also help bring some sense of accountability when the criminal justice system falls short.

Source: ABC 7 News, "Family calls sentencing in DUI crash that killed 3-year-old on I-680 an injustice," Katie Utehs, Jan. 19, 2018

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