Schemery Zicolello

Criminal charges follow fatal motorcycle crash

When someone is killed as a result of another person's negligence, the victim's family can be devastated. When a negligent driver is responsible for a fatal motorcycle crash, the driver may be held accountable through the criminal courts, but that may not be enough for the family of the victim.

After a recent Pennsylvania motorcycle accident, an 85-year-old driver is being criminally charged. According to reports, the man was driving on the wrong-side of a road in early October. The man decided to turn right from this lane but ran into a group of motorcyclists. The man apparently hit two bikers. The first biker suffered only minor injuries. The second 27-year-old motorcyclist was not so lucky. He was sent to a local hospital in critical condition and later died as a result of the accident.

Now, the driver has been charged with reckless endangerment and vehicular homicide, among other charges. The man's bail was set at $25,000 and his next hearing is on Feb. 1.

While a criminal proceeding may give some comfort to the family of the motorcyclist, it cannot bring him back. Fatal motorcycle accidents can create a financial disaster for the family left behind. In this case, the man was taken to the hospital prior to his death. As a result there may be large medical bills. Once he died, funeral costs likely accrued. Finally, this family may have depended on the motorcyclist's income to make ends-meet. Now, that income is gone.

By filing a civil suit -- namely a wrongful death claim -- in addition to the criminal proceedings, this family can recover from the financial losses they have suffered. In a wrongful death suit, negligent drivers can be held financially responsible for the damage they have caused. Compensation can include medical bills, lost wages and funeral costs. Furthermore, emotional damages such as pain and suffering may also be recoverable. This money will never bring a loved one back, but it can ease the financial strain on victim's survivors.

Source: Warminster Patch, "Elderly Warminster Man Charged in Deadly Motorcycle Accident," Jennifer Mohan, Jan. 4, 2013

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