What can I do if I have lost a loved one as a result of a drunk driving accident?

By February 20, 2010 January 28th, 2018 Blog | Wrongful Death Lawyer

Sadly, most of us know someone who has been involved in a drunk-driving accident. Even with the media campaigns over the last decade and the government’s attempts to crack down on drunk-driving, we are still plagued with an unacceptably high number of drunk-driving accidents. To make matters even worse, many of the accidents are fatal car crashes. In 2008, there were 11,773 drink-driving fatalities. If that figure isn’t scary enough, look at it this way – on average, 32 people die each day, or one every hour and a half, because of a drunk-driver. Of all car accident fatalities in the United States, a staggering 32% are attributable to a drunk-driver. While many of these drunk-drivers are charged with a criminal offense for their part in the accident, for some families of the victims this just doesn’t seem like enough. So what other legal options do you have if you have lost a loved one as a result of a drunk-driving accident?

If you are a family member of someone who was killed in a drunk-driving accident, you may be able to file as a claimant in a Wrongful Death lawsuit. A Wrongful Death lawsuit is filed in Civil Court and is a completely separate legal proceeding from any criminal charges that have been filed. If criminal charges have been filed, that does not preclude you from filing a Wrongful Death lawsuit as well. They are separate and distinct legal actions that have different levels of proof required. In a criminal proceeding, the jury must be convinced “beyond a reasonable doubt” whereas in a Wrongful Death lawsuit they must only be convinced “beyond a preponderance of the evidence”. This makes it possible to win in a Wrongful Death lawsuit even the defendant was found not guilty in the criminal case. If the defendant was convicted in the criminal case, you may still proceed with the Wrongful Death lawsuit and that conviction can only help you in your Wrongful Death lawsuit. Additionally, if the driver is convicted in the criminal case, the worst penalty he will face is a prison sentence – and frequently they receive very light prison sentences. While this may soothe the emotional pain you are going through as a result of the loss of your loved one, it does nothing to ease the financial burden that you and your family may be facing if you were dependent on your loved one in any practical way.

Of course a Wrongful Death lawsuit cannot bring back your loved one, but it can attempt to ease some of practical problems that you and your family may face in the future as a result of their loss. Contact an experienced California Wrongful Death attorney to discuss what options you and your family may have if you have a lost a loved one as a result of a drunk-driving accident. The attorneys at Ledger & Associates are available to answer any questions you may have and to help you through this difficult time. Contact them at 1-800-300-0001 or on their website at www.ledgerlaw.com.