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Not all truck accidents result in criminal charges

On Nov. 7, 2015, an 18-wheeler hauling sugar cane sideswiped another semi-truck and then slammed head-on into a car. Since that time, authorities have been investigating the crash and provided all of the evidence gathered to Louisiana prosecutors. As is the case in some truck accidents, it was determined that the truck driver in this crash committed no felonies despite the fact that a woman died. Instead, the driver was cited for driving left of center.

The 27-year-old truck driver was heading north on Louisiana 20 before 11 a.m. on the day of the crash. The truck somehow veered into the oncoming lane of traffic, which is when it hit the other truck before careening head-on into the car. The 44-year-old woman driving the car suffered fatal injuries in the impact and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The dilemma facing the Lafourche Parish district attorney was whether the accident was the result of a willful or malicious act -- which is needed for a charge of vehicular homicide -- or just an incredibly unfortunate accident. After reviewing the evidence and talking to the Louisiana State Police troopers who conducted the investigation, it was determined the prosecutor could not substantiate the felony charge. Therefore, the truck driver was only charged with a traffic violation.

As with the victims of other truck accidents, the woman's family has legal recourse even though the truck driver's actions did not meet the requirements of a felony charge. The burden of proof in civil court is not as stringent as it is in criminal court, and the family can file a wrongful death suit against the truck driver, his employer and any other party deemed responsible. Therefore, if the family is able to show that the death of their loved one was due to the negligence of the truck driver, an award of damages could be made.

Source: houmatoday.com, "Motorist charged with driving left of center in fatal crash", Bridget Mire, Jan. 8, 2016

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