Schlachman, Belsky, Weiner & Davey, P.A.

Baltimore Law Blog

There is nothing more devastating for Baltimore residents than to experience the death of a loved one. While there is never a good time for this to happen, the situation can seem even worse when the loved one dies suddenly and unexpectedly, like in a fatal car crash.

When a fatal auto accident occurs, it can seem to come out of nowhere. For instance, a woman recently died in a car accident after she and her boyfriend had stopped to address a deer that had been killed on the road from a prior accident. While the couple was pulled over on the side of the road, a truck struck the couple's Jeep, and the woman died as a result.

The driver of the truck fled from the scene of the accident. After conducting a search, police officers found the driver of the truck hiding in a bush. The driver was later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Typically, when a person is killed because of another person's negligence, it may give rise to ta cause of action for wrongful death. Often, a wrongful death action will follow a criminal trial against the other party, who may face criminal charges as a result of the accident.

While the two actions may stem from the same circumstances, the elements of each case differ. For example, in a criminal trial for DUI, there may be defenses available to the charges for the accused person, such as a faulty breathalyzer test. These defenses may not apply in the civil case for wrongful death, as it is only required to show that person's negligence. The burden of proof is also lower in the civil case, as the injured party need only show the other person caused the death by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard used in criminal trials.

Source: Fox 43, "Truck driver flees scene of fatal accident; charged with DUI," Paul Smith, Nov. 22, 2013

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