Can you sue someone for a fatal crash if they also face charges?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accident |

Car crashes are common occurrences, but most of them aren’t that serious. Still, motor vehicle collisions are a major cause of death in Louisiana, with crashes claiming hundreds of lives every year. 

Often, the drivers who cause such collisions violate the law somehow and may face criminal consequences for their behavior. If the state prosecutes a drunk driver or someone who violated traffic laws, does that mean you can’t take them to civil court?

Your civil rights exist independent of criminal prosecution

A fatal crash will change your family forever. All of you will suffer from grief and loss, as well as financial changes that can last for years. A civil lawsuit allows you to seek compensation from the person who put you in this tragic situation. 

Federal rules indeed prohibit the prosecution of someone twice for the same offense. However, a civil lawsuit is not the same thing as government prosecution. Your wrongful death claim would not be a violation of that other party’s double jeopardy protections under the law. 

If you have the right under Louisiana law to bring a wrongful death claim because of a fatal crash, then the state prosecuting the driver will not stop you from taking legal action. A successful prosecution might even help your lawsuit. Given that wrongful acts or criminal behavior are grounds for a wrongful death claim, a conviction could make it very easy to prove that your situation meets the standard for a wrongful death lawsuit. 

After losing a loved one in a fatal car crash, understanding your rights can help you hold the responsible driver accountable.