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Criminal prosecution relies on evidence and police conclusions after a thorough investigation. Chico residents are entitled to the assumption of innocence until proven otherwise. Sometimes, evidence is questionable, and no charge results. The same thing applies to trucking accident survivors – reliance upon evidence to hold someone accountable. A police investigative report is an integral part of that process. But if a careful review of the facts by an experienced eye suggests different conclusions, a civil lawsuit may be filed to determine liability.

It could easily happen in California as it did in another state. A trucking accident allegedly took the life of a husband and father. Although, reportedly, police concluded the trucker wasn’t at fault, a wrongful death complaint was filed seeking compensation for his survivors. The victim’s daughter, through her mother as representative, claims a tractor-trailer driver was operating the commercial vehicle in an impaired state when he swerved to the shoulder of the interstate, hitting her father.

This case illustrates the need for victims’ rights and options to be protected through scrutiny of all the evidence. Reportedly, plaintiff’s counsel is questioning the soundness of the police investigation. It shows the driver’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit for that state at the time. The driver stopped and called 911, advising he had hit something. Two officers drove by the area and didn’t surmise a person had been hit. They reported it was a deer. As a result, nine hours elapsed before other motorists’ reports led to the victim. Accident reconstruction experts opined disagreement with police conclusions, particularly as the scene had been contaminated by hours of traffic.

It’s possible for investigations to be flawed, and circumstances may be subject to interpretation at times. The bottom line for this child and her mother is the accountability of whoever is responsible for their loss. Even if the man isn’t prosecuted, seeking compensation from him and the company for which he worked with a skilled, effective approach in court might help with their emotional recovery and future financial security.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, “Wrongful death lawsuit questions investigation of cyclist’s death” Alan Burdziak, May. 17, 2014

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