Being involved in an accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have serious ramifications for both the drunk driver and others involved in the crash. Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.08 percent will likely face jail time, fines, and revocation of their driver’s license. When a drunk driver kills someone, they may also face homicide, manslaughter, or murder charges. However, none of these penalties will compensate the victims for their loss.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal DUI crash, you should talk to an attorney about filing a wrongful death claim.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone dies because of another person’s negligence, it is considered a wrongful death. In Alaska, a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate can file a claim for damages. Damages are typically asked for as a single monetary amount to benefit the survivors of the deceased.
Although a drunk driver will likely face criminal prosecution because of the fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that is completely separate from any criminal charges. The standard of proof is lower in a civil case than in a criminal case for murder or manslaughter. Whereas a criminal case must offer proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” a civil case requires the lesser demanding “a preponderance of the evidence.” So even if a drunk driver is acquitted of criminal charges, they can still be held accountable through a civil case.
Damages to which survivors may be entitled through a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Lost wages of the deceased
- Expenses associated with the victim’s death
- Loss of consortium, which is the loss of the care, comfort, and guidance of the deceased
- Loss of child and spousal support
- Grief and emotional suffering
- Punitive damages
You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney
It is devastating to lose a loved one, especially when in an accident that happened because of someone else’s negligence. The feelings of loss and grief can be overwhelming. There are wrongful death laws in place that can help families who have lost a loved one get compensation. Calling an experienced wrongful death attorney such as Ben Crittenden is a crucial first step. Call today to schedule a free consultation to go over your legal options.