In addition to potential criminal liabilities, the driver who is at fault may have to defend against civil allegations if the victim’s surviving loved ones bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Under state law, this type of lawsuit is designed to hold a negligent driver responsible for causing a fatal accident.
In this case, although the responding officers may have prepared accident reports, it will be important for the survivors to consult with a personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise about the strategic considerations for this type of lawsuit. For example, it might be beneficial to delay the wrongful death lawsuit until after the criminal proceeding against the driver has concluded. That timing may facilitate access to helpful evidence that could be repurposed for a civil forum where there is a lower standard of proof. In a wrongful deathlawsuit , the plaintiff need only persuade a jury by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Source: CBS Local, “Trial Begins For Alleged Drunk Driver Charged In Crash That Killed Long Island Teen,” Oct. 20, 2014