Driver Will Not Face Charges for Death of Bicyclist
A recent fatal bike accident has raised a number of questions regarding when drivers should face charges and how families can seek justice for their loss. According to a KQED news report, the truck driver responsible for striking and killing a 24-year-old female bicyclist will not be charged for the crash and will not be ticketed for failing to yield. Officials say the fatal crash occurred on Folsom Street near Sixth Street in San Francisco the morning of August 14, 2013.
Investigators reviewed video surveillance tape of the crash and found that the driver was responsible for the accident by turning into the bike lane and striking the woman. However, the District Attorney reviewing the case decided that the tape was not enough to convince a jury and did not press charges.
This type of situation can occur anywhere. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 17 bicyclists killed in New Jersey in 2011. Much to the dismay of the families killed in New Jersey crashes, many drivers are never charged for their actions. There is often a lack of follow-up in serious and fatal crashes involving bicyclists and investigators are quick to assume that bike riders put themselves in danger. Even when there is evidence to the contrary, prosecutors may still not file charges if they do not believe they can secure a conviction.
The family of the victim in this case has decided to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. There are a number of significant differences between a criminal case and a civil wrongful death case. Only the government can criminally prosecute, but the family of the decedent can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the at-fault driver was guilty of breaking the law. In a civil case, the family of the victim only has to show that the at-fault party’s negligence contributed to the crash.
A wrongful death claim can help families of deceased accident victims secure compensation for losses such as medical bills, lost future wages, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. No amount of compensation can replace the life of a loved one, but a fair settlement can help a family deal with their financial losses and give them a sense of justice and closure.
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