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Kansas liability cases can advance without criminal charges

Evidence determines whether a motor vehicle accident investigation ends with criminal charges. The cause of a fatal accident revealed through survivor and witness interviews, chemical testing, crash reconstruction and wreckage inspection can clear or condemn drivers of wrongdoing.

A severe injury or loss of life does not guarantee a person will be charged with a crime. Similarly, a closed police investigation does not prevent Pittsburg victims from filing claims for compensation in civil court.

The family and former colleagues of a Kansas City, Missouri, tow truck driver have lived with the grief of the teen's loss for a year. The driver of a company truck that struck and killed the 18-year-old was not arrested or charged for the fatality.

The tow truck operator was assisting a stranded motorist on a bridge when he was hit. State laws require drivers to reduce speed or "move over" to a far lane while passing emergency vehicles. The statute gives tow trucks the same priority as vehicles for law enforcement, fire crews and medical personnel.

The criminal investigation was closed after two reviews by prosecutors without so much as an issuance of a traffic ticket.

The victim's family brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the truck driver and the company he owns. Relatives said the liability action was being accompanied by an awareness campaign about the Move Over law.

Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits may or may not depend on evidence from criminal investigations. A jury will award damages as long as accident victims or family members of deceased victims prove negligence was present and caused harm. Lawsuits like these generally involve negotiations with the defendant's insurer. Many wrongful death cases end with a settlement before ever reaching court.

Liability attorneys also can help families of employees killed on the job receive another source of compensation - workers' compensation benefits.

Source:  fox4kc.com, "Family fights to educate drivers after 18-year-old tow truck driver killed on highway" No author given, Aug. 28, 2013

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