Too often, the criminal justice system fails to bring justice to victims and their loved ones. When a person is found not guilty of a crime or faces a light sentence, the victim’s loved ones may feel that the criminal case failed to hold the perpetrator accountable for their profound loss. In these scenarios, a victim or their loved ones might look for another way to seek justice. When the criminal justice system fails to hold perpetrators accountable, a victim or their loved ones may turn to civil court and file a negligence lawsuit.
As a recent news article reported, a corrections officer received no jail time for an accident that killed a nine-year-old girl in Cumberland County, Maine. The accident occurred when the officer crashed his truck into an SUV, killing the girl who was riding in the back of the car. While on trial for manslaughter, the officer admitted he may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Prosecutors asked the judge for an 8-year sentence, 4 years’ supervision, and 100 hours of community service. The judge was much more lenient. At the sentencing hearing, the judge imposed a 6-year suspended sentence, 4 years probation, and 200 hours of community service. A suspended sentence is delayed until the convicted person completes probation, but judges often dismiss the sentence upon successful completion of the probation period. As a result, the officer likely faces no jail time.
Can You Sue a Driver Who Faced Charges in Criminal Court?
A criminal case does not affect your ability to sue a criminal defendant for damages in civil court. First, you can sue a driver who was found not guilty in a criminal trial—or who did not face criminal charges at all. Remember that a jury may find a person not guilty in a criminal case, but a jury could find that same person liable for civil damages. Second, you can sue a driver for damages even if they have to pay a criminal fine. Maine’s criminal law imposes fines as punishment for certain crimes, but these fines have nothing to do with civil liability for an accident. Even if the driver must pay criminal fines, you can still hold them responsible for civil damages.
How Can You Sue for Wrongful Death in Maine?
Maine law allows a person to bring a wrongful death negligence lawsuit if the deceased would have been able to bring a lawsuit had they not died in the accident. Under Maine law, the administrator of the deceased’s estate can sue a negligent party for wrongful death. However, as beneficiaries of the estate, the victim’s loved ones can also recover damages. In bringing a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s family can pursue compensation for medical and burial expenses, lost wages of the deceased, and the emotional loss of the deceased’s companionship. Under Maine law, a person must bring a wrongful death claim within two years of the fatal accident. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
Do You Need a Maine Wrongful Death Attorney?
If your loved one has died in a Maine car accident, you may be unsure what to do next. To understand your options, contact the compassionate personal injury attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates. Our attorneys possess years of experience handling Maine wrongful death lawsuits. You can be sure that we will provide dedicated and competent representation at every step of your case. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team, contact our office at 800-804-2004 or reach out through our website.