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Criminal charges are not always filed in a fatal crash

Within eight days, two rear-end collisions have taken the lives of two 4-year-old boys. In the first fatal crash, the driver faces a myriad of criminal charges. In the second accident, Florida officials do not believe that criminal charges will be filed against the driver believed to be responsible. In either case, however, the victims and/or their families may file civil actions.

In the first accident, a 38-year-old man and his 4-year-old son were sitting at a red light when another vehicle plowed into the back of his car. Both father and son were killed. The 61-year-old driver of the other vehicle is suspected of driving under the influence and faces charges of DUI manslaughter (2 counts), vehicular homicide (2 counts) and DUI with property damages (1 count).

In the second accident, traffic was moving slowly on U.S. Highway 27. A vehicle occupied by a 41-year-old father, his 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter was crawling along with the other traffic when a box truck slammed into the back of it. The impact pushed the car into the pickup truck in front of it. The father and daughter survived the crash with injuries, but the man's son died as emergency personnel on the scene attempted to save his life. Criminal charges against the 18-year-old driver of the box truck are said to be unlikely.

In both cases, surviving family members may file wrongful death claims against the drivers believed to be at fault, among other parties if appropriate. Surviving victims may file personal injury claims as well. The burden of proof in a Florida civil court is not as stringent as it is in criminal cases. Therefore, even if a driver's actions in a fatal crash do not result in criminal charges, the victims and their families could still be awarded monetary damages in civil court after proving negligence and documenting financial losses.

Source: theledger.com, "Boy, 4, Killed in U.S. 27 Car Crash", Tori Walker, June 6, 2015

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