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Md. man convicted of negligent homicide after car accident

Family members of those killed in a car accident may find justice when the perpetrator of the crime that ended the life of their loved one is sentenced to prison, but that emotional satisfaction does not fill the economic gap that is left from their death. Civil actions including loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses may also be brought to help suffering family members.

A Maryland man pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide by motor vehicle Monday, adding closure to what officials say was a fatal accident caused by a man under the influence of alcohol. In addition to criminal prosecution the man may also face a civil case from the victims' family for the wrongful death.

An investigation by the Maryland State Police CRASH team revealed that the man was driving between 50 and 56 mph during heavy fog when he crossed the double yellow lines and hit a Chevrolet Cavalier driving the opposite direction. Officials say his blood alcohol level was .17 three hours after the crash.

Assistant State's Attorney requested the court to impose 18 months in the Harford County Detention Center despite no prior criminal history. The man was sentenced to the maximum five years' incarceration with all but 14 months suspended. Upon release he will be on five years of supervised probation. He is also ordered to make almost $14,000 in restitution.

In a wrongful death civil suit, when a driver acts in a careless way and causes the death of another, the driver will be legally liable for any resulting harm under the legal principle of negligence. In negligence claims the plaintiff (family of the person injured) must show that the defendant (the person at fault) had a legal duty of care to the victim, breached that duty through their actions, which caused an accident involving the victim, and caused the death of the victim.

Source: ABC 2 "Churchville man pleads guilty to negligent homicide," Nov. 26, 2012

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