Massachusetts crash kills passenger, 91; Wrongful death claim?

A little over a year ago, a fatal accident occurred in Sudbury. The crash happened just two days after Christmas and took the life of a 91-year-old female passenger. The victim was riding in a car operated by a Marlborough woman who is now 39 years old. While it remains to be seen if wrongful death litigation will make its way through the Massachusetts civil court system, the driver has been charged criminally for vehicular homicide.

Police say the driver rear ended a box truck. The elderly woman was airlifted to a Boston hospital where she died a few days later. Her cause of death was attributed to injuries she sustained in the accident.

This is the second time the driver has been criminally charged in the case. The original charges were dismissed due to a legal technicality, and the district attorney filed the same accusations again. An official investigation determined the driver was negligent, though the woman faults the driver of the box truck for the accident. The criminal case will now proceed, and the victim’s family will likely follow its progress carefully.

It was not reported if the surviving family has initiated a Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuit and, if so, against whom. What appears clear is that the elderly woman passenger lost her life due to the negligence of others, whether it was the criminally accused driver, the operator of the box truck, or both. A civil claim seeking monetary damages may assist the family in holding those parties deemed negligent responsible for the fatality. To prevail, the family will need to prove in court that the death of their loved one was the proximate result of negligent acts. If the woman is criminally convicted of vehicular homicide, proof of that conviction may be offered as evidence of liability in any related civil action.

Source: The MetroWest Daily News, “Marlborough woman arraigned again for Sudbury fatal crash,” Norman Miller, Jan. 5, 2012

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