Recently, a Louisiana courtroom was full of people from both the family of the 6-year-old boy killed in 2012 and the family of the man accused of negligent homicide in connection with the boy’s death. The deceased boy’s family was hoping for a verdict regarding the fatal accident, but the trial was postponed due to the unavailability of an unknown witness. The driver on trial maintains he did not see the boy prior to the accident.
The boy was riding his scooter along his neighborhood sidewalk with a friend and his brother. As he crossed the man’s driveway, he fell off his scooter. At the same time, the driver was pulling into his driveway. According to authorities, the man was distracted by his cell phone.
Further investigation revealed that the man had a blood alcohol content of .06 the day of the accident, which is lower than the Louisiana minimum of .08. A grand jury originally refused to indict the driver, but the prosecution filed charges anyway, based on the claim that he was distracted and should have seen the boy. The driver maintains that, even if he had not been on his cell phone, there was no way he could have seen the victim.
At this point, the outcome of the criminal case is uncertain. Nevertheless, the surviving family members have legal options regardless of the outcome in criminal court. Even if no conviction is secured, they have the right to proceed with a wrongful death claim in a Louisiana civil court. If they establish that the driver was negligent in a manner that caused or contributed to the fatal accident, the family may be awarded monetary damages to be applied to the financial losses that inevitably accompany these tragedies.