It is a common misconception that when criminal charges are filed against an individual for an accident a civil lawsuit cannot be filed too. In an instance of wrongful death—where an individual is responsible for the wrongful death of another—criminal charges are often initiated by law enforcement if drinking or other substances played a role. However, families can also financially recover in these cases by filing a wrongful death lawsuit too. Every state has different requirements for a wrongful death lawsuit, and Massachusetts is no exception.
Recently in Leominster, there was a multiple-vehicle crash in the breakdown lane. One individual was changing the tire on his vehicle when another man drifted into the breakdown lane and struck the rear of the first car. The man changing the tire was also hit and sustained fatal injuries. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. State police indicate the crash remains under investigation.
A person can legally be held liable for another’s wrongful death under two circumstances: (1) if the person’s negligence causes the death of another; or (2) if they willfully or recklessly acted and this act caused the death of another. Massachusetts courts use a standard utilized in many other states to determine if a lawsuit can be brought: the defendant can be held liable if the deceased could have recovered damages for the personal injuries if he had not died.