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NASCAR driver faces wrongful death suit after tragic accident

When a fatal car accident occurs, both criminal and civil charges may be filed against all responsible parties. Even when criminal charges are dropped, the family of the victim may still proceed with their wrongful death suit in civil court and may recover damages from the driver responsible for the accident.

NASCAR driver Tony Stewart was involved in a highly publicized fatal accident on the racetrack last year in which fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. was killed. Stewart and Ward Jr. were involved in an incident on the racetrack that prevented Ward from continuing in the race. When Ward Jr. got out of his car, possibly to confront Stewart, Stewart crashed into him. Stewart says that the accident was completely unintentional. An Ontario County district attorney's report showed that Ward Jr. was under the influence of enough marijuana to impair his judgment at the time of the accident. Stewart was facing charges of manslaughter in the second degree and criminally negligent homicide. The grand jury did not indict Stewart.

However, experts believe this is not enough evidence to discount a lawsuit in civil court. Ward Jr.'s family is now filing a wrongful death suit against Stewart. The suit contains a wrongful death action, as well as three other actions including gross negligence, pain, terror and suffering prior to death, and intentional/reckless conduct. The suit states that Stewart caused the accident by revving his engine and not avoiding Ward Jr. as the other drivers had done. The suit brings Stewart's unique vehicle and extreme driving skill into play. The suit does not list damages.

When a family is dealing with heartbreaking loss after a fatal car crash, it can be difficult to think about spending time in a courtroom. However, doing so may help the recovery process significantly with the damages acquired.

Source: USA Today, "Kevin Ward Jr. family files wrongful death suit against Tony Stewart," Brant James, Aug. 8, 2015

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