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Car accidents resulting in death may open damages claims

Driving drunk is a serious enough offense for a driver who is involved in an accident. However, when the accident results in the death of an innocent victim, the offender will have a heavy criminal price to pay. A recent New Hampshire accident may illustrate the point about these kinds of car accidents. Authorities report that a woman was killed while driving on Interstate 89 when her vehicle was hit head-on by a vehicle going in the wrong direction and driven by a drunk driver.

The New Hampshire State Police also reported that the decedent's 4-year-old son, who was strapped in the rear seat, was seriously injured and hospitalized. The boy's mother died at the scene. The accused drunk driver was charged with DWI and negligent homicide.

Despite the focus on the criminal actions of the driver, there is also generally a civil claim for monetary damages that exists under these circumstances. Based on the reported facts, the estate of the decedent will have a wrongful death civil claim against the offender. The boy, through a guardian such as his father, is entitled to make a claim for personal injury damages.

The wrongful death claim for such car accidents under New Hampshire law may include reimbursement of costs, medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, lost future wages and earning capacity, and pain and suffering. The boy can claim damages for all medical expenses, costs of future rehabilitation and treatment, and pain and suffering. The boy may be also compensated if it can be documented that he suffered a long-term permanent disability that will affect future earning capacity and disruption of the normal and expected pleasures of life that he has lost.

Source: wcax.com, "Police: Wrong-way drunk driver caused deadly crash", Cat Viglienzoni, May 26, 2016

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