Most Tennessee residents know their neighborhood better than any other part of the State. This familiarity can make individuals feel safe and comfortable, such as when they are driving to or from home. Unfortunately, however, because these roads are also the most traveled by Tennessee residents, car accidents occur frequently near a person's home.
One such tragic accident occurred when a 66-year-old man was only about a block away from his home. The man was stopped at a stop sign when he was struck by a woman's vehicle in mid-afternoon. The woman, who was also returning home after doing some shopping, was swerving between lanes prior to the crash, and was later determined to have had several drugs in her system at the time of the crash, such as Valium, Oxycodone, Tramadol, Trazodone and Benadryl.
The man was flown to a hospital in Knoxville, but he died three days later. As a result of the incident, the woman was criminally charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication. She was recently found guilty on the charge and is awaiting sentencing.
Cases like the above are a stark reminder of the dangers of having a drunk driver or person under the influence of drugs on the road. In these cases, not only can the drunk driver face criminal liability, he or she can also be subject to civil liability in a personal injury lawsuit.
Criminal and civil cases differ in many respects, beginning with the purposes of the actions. Criminal cases, which are brought by the state, impose penalties on the guilty person, including jail time or fines. Civil cases, on the other hand, can order the drunk driver to pay compensation to the person who was injured in an accident.
The burdens of proof also vary between criminal and civil cases. In civil cases, the injured person need only prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower standard than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard that applies in criminal cases.
Source: Tricities.com, "Woman found guilty of vehicular homicide in Sullivan County," Robert Sorrell, Jan. 30, 2015