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Civil suit can be filed regardless of criminal case outcome

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2021 | Personal Injury

Losing a loved one in a preventable car accident is understandably traumatic for surviving family members. Dealing with the financial consequences at the same time exacerbates the trauma. In Delaware and elsewhere, if the surviving family members can prove another party’s negligence, they could file a wrongful death claim to pursue claims for financial relief.

Sometimes, a civil lawsuit might not immediately be viable, but in time, investigations might uncover evidence to document that the negligence of another party caused the loved one’s death. The statute of limitations in Delaware allows two years for wrongful death claims to be filed in a civil court.

Example of such a case

On May 10, 2020, a woman was heading north on DE-495 when her vehicle was rear-ended. The impact of the collision ruptured the fuel tank of the woman’s car and propelled her vehicle off the roadway and down an embankment. The woman was burned to death in her car.

Following thorough investigations, a Wilmington man was arrested earlier this month. Police allege the man was the driver of the vehicle that crashed into the rear of the woman who lost her life. He is now facing several criminal charges.

The right to file a civil lawsuit

The woman who was killed was alone in her vehicle, and the surviving family had no information about the circumstances of the accident. Because they had no one to hold accountable, their hands were tied. However, because the statute of limitations is two years, they might now have a viable claim to file.

They can file a wrongful death claim against that driver in a Delaware civil court. The investigations that led to the man’s arrest may also help the woman’s family prove his negligence, which is an essential element of these types of civil lawsuits. While no amount of money will bring her back to life, recovering the end-of-life expenses, lost income, and other losses might ease the financial burden.