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Driver pleads guilty after DUI wreck that took Kenner man's life

The legal matters that arise after a fatal auto accident often relate to both civil and criminal law. For example, if a drunk driver caused the fatal crash, then the driver is likely to face a criminal charge of vehicular homicide. On the civil side of things, the family of the deceased may bring a claim of wrongful death. This sort of civil action is meant to provide the family with compensation for the following:

  • final expenses
  • medical expenses
  • injury to the victim
  • injury to the victim's family
  • pecuniary damages
  • punitive damages

In other words, the full measure of legal justice is not limited to the criminal court's ruling. Grieving families have additional options. With that in mind, consider a somewhat complex case underway after the death of a Kenner man.

In 2012 the man was injured in a car accident involving a Metairie man who was under the influence of a prescription drug at the time of the collision. The injured man was taken to a hospital, and the intoxicated driver was charged with DUI and vehicular negligent injury.

The negligence charge was upgraded to vehicular homicide, however, after the Kenner man died a couple of months later. Before he died, he reportedly suffered a fall, which worsened his condition.

In criminal court, proving a vehicular homicide charge involves showing that the intoxicated driver's actions caused the death, and in this case, the driver's defense claimed that the exact cause of the Kenner man's death was the fall and not the DUI accident. Consequently, the charge against the driver was reduced to first-degree vehicular negligent injury, and he recently pleaded guilty.

Now the Kenner man's wife has brought a civil complaint against the hospital where her husband was treated.

In similar cases, the family of the deceased may also seek to hold the driver accountable for his or her role in the wreck. A criminal conviction is not necessary to sue a negligent party for wrongful death, though a criminal investigation can inform and strengthen a wrongful death claim.

Source: Nola.com, "Metairie man pleads guilty to negligent injury in car wreck that led to victim's death," Paul Purpura, July 16, 2014

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