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Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Drunk Driver?

Home » FAQs » Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Drunk Driver?
May 3, 2020

A drunk driver struck the vehicle of someone you loved, and now that person is gone. What do you do? If it was your spouse, you might worry about the loss of decades of companionship. You might stress over raising your children alone. Most families suffer through these aches together, but often one or two people are left to financially pick up the pieces. A wrongful death claim against a drunk driver does allow for pain and suffering damages, but often they help in economic recovery where other cases don’t. You might experience the loss of your household’s primary income or have tens of thousands in medical debt because the victim was on life support. You can file a lawsuit but go through these concerns and worries first.

What About The Other Cases?

What you are looking at is a separation between the two court systems. Meaning that yes, there are likely criminal charges pending. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t press civil charges as well.

What is a civil wrongful death case? These cases involve the event of a death that was unexpected, unforeseen, and at the hands of someone else. In theory, you can file for wrongful death in a drunk driving case, in an assault, and in most car accident situations.

Opening a civil case won’t interfere with any criminal investigation that the Cincinnati Police has in store. In fact, you can open your case and wait to move forward until that case closes. The civil court system works in a very different capacity than what people see on TV. You’re not trying to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, you’re trying to prove “more likely than not.”

In doing this, you would expose that it is more likely than not, that if the driver were sober, they would not have hit the vehicle. Again, it is more likely than not, that the driver would have made better decisions. However, you’ll need to rely on proof to do this.

Will There be A Criminal Trial?

It is very likely that if someone died because of a drunk driver that the driver would face charges. They may face charges for vehicular homicide, in the first or second degree, and others face negligence charges. It all depends on the police department and the specifics of the crash.

Now, there are possible jail sentences for deaths resulting from drunk driving. Each varies per state. In Ohio, a drunk driver can get between 1 and 15 years for a sentence. Many families don’t believe that’s enough time. Especially when you compare it to Tennessee, where the minimum is 8eightyears, and the maximum is 60.

Your role in the criminal trial may only include a victim statement. Often families are updated infrequently if at all. It’s a huge obstacle for many, but often a civil trial is what families imagine. A civil trial allows you to work with an attorney, lay out your damages, the full impact of the loss, and pursue justice. Although it’s in the form of financial compensation, it’s may be more than what the criminal justice system can deliver.

Why Would a Family Member Need to File a Wrongful Death Claim Against a Drunk Driver?

Wrongful death claims provide financial relief for both economic and non-economic losses. If you were left with tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands in medical debt, then you may need to file a wrongful death claim against a drunk driver. That type of debt can leave a family financially crippled.

Additionally, you may seek compensation for the loss of income, companionship, or more. Although it’s impossible to put a value on some of these items, you can still pursue compensation for financial experts deem fair.

Explore the Options for the Lost Loved One in Your Life

Normally drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians pay the price for drunk driving. As much as people would like some peace in knowing that the drunk driver was only putting themselves at risk, it’s just not true. From Chicken Soup for the Soul poems to full-length movies, we have all come to undrstand that drunk drivers give more grief than they get.

When losing someone to a drunk driver, it’s tough for the family to forgive. Often the family is full of adults who drink and often or always choose not to drive. So why now, and why this time? Unfortunately, circumstances aren’t enough when families want justice and financial relief for the economic damages of the crash. Contact our Cincinnati car accident injury law firm today to approach the topic of suing a drunk driver for the wrongful death of the victim.

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