Craig P. Tiller, Esq. PLLC

Civil and criminal matters may differ in fatal accidents

When a car accident causes injuries that lead to someone's death, there may be criminal charges filed against a driver. Charges may include drunk driving, vehicular homicide or negligent homicide. It's important for residents of Lynchburg, Virginia, to remember that civil and criminal matters aren't the same thing when it comes to fatal accidents.

Authorities in nearby Roanoke dealt with three fatal car accidents during the final months of 2013. On Oct. 29, a woman was struck and killed by a pickup truck. On Nov. 15, a 63-year-old woman was struck as she was crossing the road to catch a bus. On Nov. 26, a 67-year-old doctor was struck by vehicle in downtown Roanoke. He died from his injuries three days later.

According to authorities, drivers in both of the November incidents stopped at the scene. Reportedly, both drivers remained on scene and offered assistance. The Commonwealth's attorney said that both incidents occurred at night during poor weather conditions. All of these things may have been considered when authorities decided not to charge either driver in the fatal crashes.

Police report that the driver involved in the Oct. 2013 accident is still being sought. They state he fled the accident scene.

Though no driver is criminally charged in either of the November incidents, surviving families still have the right to seek a compensation claim. In such cases, civil burden of proof is different from criminal requirements. Plaintiffs in a personal injury suit generally have to prove negligence or other fault on the part of the driver. They may also have to prove that claimed damages do, in fact, exist.

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