When a family loses a loved one to the negligence of another driver in a T-bone collision, they might hope that the criminal justice system will provide some closure. However, criminal cases against drivers believed to have caused T-bone collisions do not always proceed as families, victims and Missouri prosecutors predict. If the court determines that a driver's actions do not rise to criminality, any charges filed against that person could be dismissed.
In the spring of 2015, a man driving a pickup truck failed to stop at a red traffic signal. Another vehicle was already legally in the intersection, and the truck slammed into its passenger side. Three people were injured in the crash, but only one survived.
A 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old man suffered fatal injuries to which they succumbed. The third individual suffered unknown injuries. The pickup truck driver was charged with assault and involuntary manslaughter in the aftermath of the crash. Recently, the judge presiding over the criminal case against the 32-year-old driver ruled that his actions did not rise to criminal negligence.
Fortunately, the victim and the families of the two deceased men may still pursue actions against the driver in a Missouri civil court. The burden of proof for negligence is not as stringent in civil court as it is in a criminal proceeding. Therefore, it is possible to prevail in a wrongful death or personal injury claim, even if criminal charges were dismissed. A successfully litigated civil claim could result in an award of damages often seen in T-bone collisions.
Source: abc17news.com, "Manslaughter charges in double-fatality accident dismissed", Feb. 25, 2016