A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in the wake of a fatal bicycle accident in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The accident occurred Aug. 24, 2012 when a 50-year-old truck driver struck and killed a 41-year-old man on a bike. The driver of the 18-wheeler hit the bicyclist as the truck was turning left at a three-way intersection.
Surveillance video taken at the intersection shows the bicyclist crossing right in front of the truck moments before the truck took the left turn. Criminal investigators felt that there was enough evidence to charge the truck driver with several crimes, but a grand jury failed to indict the man and the criminal case was closed.
However, the family of the bicyclist who was killed said they will pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver. In a statement, the family said that they believe the accident could have been prevented if the driver of the truck had used “even basic care in operating the truck.” In an interview with police, the truck driver said he had seen the bicyclist, but had no idea there had been an accident.
It is common for personal injury lawsuits to succeed when criminal charges fail for lack of evidence. That’s because criminal cases deal with actual crimes, while civil lawsuits can deal with criminal or negligent behavior that causes injury. In other words, a person can be sued for negligent behavior that wasn’t necessarily a crime.
Another reason is because the standard of proof is lower in a civil lawsuit than it is in a criminal lawsuit. In a criminal case, the defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a very high burden. In a civil lawsuit, the defendant must be found negligent by a preponderance of the evidence.
Source: 7 News, “Wrongful death suit filed in Wellesley bike accident,” Jonathan Hall, Feb. 4, 2013