Earlier this month, the criminal case associated with a December 2020 fatal bicycle accident we wrote about on this blog came to a close when the defendant was sentenced to 40 years in prison. While the crash and case did not occur in Maryland, the experiences of the loved one and the subsequent legal consequences for the defendant are applicable to the Maryland bicycle crashes that happen almost every day.
According to the New York Times, the original accident occurred on the morning of December 10 when the 45-year-old man driving a truck under the influence of methamphetamine crashed into a group of cyclists. The cyclists were part of a larger group taking part in an annual 130-mile ride. Five of them died on the highway as a result of the crash, and several others were injured. The deceased were identified as a 39-year-old woman and four men, aged 41, 48, 57, and 57. The driver was initially charged with five counts of driving under the influence resulting in death, and other assorted charges, which could have resulted in a sentence of more than 100 years in prison. But the defendant reached a deal with prosecutors and pled guilty to two counts of driving under the influence resulting in death instead.
The New York Times reported on the significant pain and grief the relatives of the victims experienced as a result of losing their loved ones. For example, one widow told the judge in the case that she still kept her husband’s ashes in an urn on a dresser next to her bed and his toothbrush and razor on the bathroom sink, unable to handle the pain of removing any of it. Other relatives are similarly dealing with the grief, and surviving cyclists are having to work through the trauma of the experience—and seeing their friends killed—in addition to recovering physically from their injuries. Because of the sheer amount of pain this accident caused, many individuals may wonder if the criminal sentence actually does anything to help the families recover from this devastating loss.
This question highlights the differences between the criminal and civil law systems and why some families who lose their loved ones in an accident like this may want to seek civil liability from the defendant in addition to (or instead of) their criminal liability. While criminal law punishes the defendant, civil lawsuits focus instead on making the plaintiff whole. Through a civil lawsuit, the families may be able to recover monetary damages to cover lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and funeral and burial costs. These monetary damages can go a long way in helping the relatives heal and in ensuring they don’t go bankrupt as the result of the accident.
Are You Thinking About Filing a Civil Lawsuit for Wrongful Death?
If so, waste no time before calling the Maryland wrongful death attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. Our attorneys work around the clock for Maryland clients who have lost loved ones in bicycle accidents, as well as other Maryland accidents, and will do everything we can to get you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 800-654-1949 to learn more.