A former Pennsylvania police officer was recently sentenced in connection with a fatal car accident he caused during a high-speed chase. After pleading guilty to third-degree felony homicide by vehicle, the 27-year-old man was sentenced to three to 23 months in prison. However, reports said he could serve as little as six weeks behind bars, and carry out the rest of his sentence under home arrest.
The fatal accident occurred in 2014, as the officer was pursuing a suspect in another car in Carbon County. During the chase, investigators determined he reached speeds in excess of 110 mph before smashing into a Toyota Yaris driven by a man and woman who were not connected with the suspect. The woman died from her injuries, while her husband was seriously injured.
Criminal cases and personal injury lawsuits serve different purposes. A criminal case is meant to uphold justice and restore the public's sense of safety. A personal injury lawsuit can also uphold the concept of justice and dissuade other people from acting carelessly, but its primary purpose is to restore the victim and his or her family, as much as possible, to the position they were in before the accident.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the measure of damages is the monetary effects of the accident. For example, the court may measure the projected future income the victim might have earned had she or he not been killed, and consider this as part of the damages suffered by the victim's family.
It must be noted that the details of a wrongful death lawsuit make many people uncomfortable. While recovering monetary damages can't bring back a loved one who was taken away too soon, it can help the survivors to cope with their loss. It also should be noted that a personal injury lawsuit filed against a government agency, such as a police force, may require special procedures and other considerations. Attorneys with experience in personal injury can help victims and their families to understand their rights and their legal options.
Source: citizensvoice.com, "Former police officer sentences in fatal crash," Amanda Christman, October 13, 2016