Can criminal charges be filed?
My niece was involved in a car accident on January 25, 2015, she died due to the accident. She was a passenger in the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle had been drinking but toxicology reports stated that she was not over the limit. The driver did not have any insurance nor did she have a drivers license.
The driver illegally tried to pass a vehicle on a 2 lane road. She tried to pass a car that was coming on the opposite side of the road, causing her to swerve back into the lane of the car she was trying to pass. The car fished tailed, causing the car to spin, ejecting my niece from the vehicle as it flipped.
Can criminal charges be filed against the driver? Is there any other legal recourse that can be taken against her? What else can we do? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Can criminal charges be filed?":
Ashley (York, PA):
From the facts you present, the driver of the car was not intoxicated. As a result, the driver does not appear to have committed a criminal offense. However, if the driver was issued a citation by the police officer for reckless driving, and the driver pleads guilty or is found guilty of the charge, such finding can be used against her in a claim for wrongful death.
To know whether or not the driver was issued a citation for Reckless Driving you will need a copy of the police report. In the report will be a designation of witness statements, citations issued, a diagram of the accident, and other important information.
Here's some information on using police reports to help your claim.
According to Section 3736 of the Pennsylvania Code, Reckless Driving is defined as "any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. The maximum penalty for reckless driving is a fine of up to $200.00."
Even if the driver has not been convicted of Reckless Driving, her actions while driving appeared to have been patently negligent. As a result, your niece's estate may have a right to be compensated for her death. It would be best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. You cannot handle a wrongful death case on your own.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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