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Criminal Charges And Lawsuits After Fatal New York Car Accidents

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After a fatal drunk driving accident in New York, the authorities may choose to prosecute the responsible party for driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter or other crimes. For the family of the victim, seeing the driver convicted may bring some measure of justice or feelings of closure, but it often doesn’t help much with the financial burdens that follow a fatal car accident.

A Nassau County jury recently convicted a man in connection with a 2011 drunk driving crash that left a man dead. At his sentencing hearing, the court gave the man the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison. The conviction reportedly represents just the third time a Nassau County court has convicted someone of the charge depraved indifference homicide in a DWI accident.

According to prosecutors, the man was being pursued by police after a bar fight at the time of the accident. Police said in the course of a high-speed chase, the man ran eight stop signs and six red lights before crashing into the victim’s car with such force that it was torn in half. Prosecutors said the driver had been smoking marijuana and his blood-alcohol content was three times the legal limit at the time of the accident. The victim was killed on impact. He was the father of a 5-year-old girl.

Depraved indifference homicide is a charge used when a defendant in a homicide case was acting with a reckless disregard for the likelihood that his actions could result in another person’s death.

When a New York family loses a loved one in a car accident, they can be left with huge medical expenses, funeral costs, the loss of the loved one’s income and other costs. They may be compensated for some of their financial damages through a wrongful death lawsuit in a way that a criminal conviction cannot. These lawsuits are filed by immediate family members on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. Any award is then distributed to the deceased person’s heirs through a will or the laws of inheritance.

Source: CBS New York, “Maximum Sentence For Convicted Drunk, Drugged Driver On Long Island,” April 17, 2013

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