Civil lawsuit might stop you: If criminal trial fails to punish bad drivers, financial penalties will

Sometimes what a criminal trial does not or cannot do for justice a civil lawsuit will.
We refer here to three different pedestrians— all young women — who were struck by vehicles in Morgantown since January 2016.
Two of them died as a result of injuries and in the other,  the pedestrian was seriously injured and today, a year later, struggles daily.
In two of these cases, courts rendered soft sentences — one at a parent’s request, the other the outcome of sentencing laws.
The first fatal incident, resulted in a young man being sentenced to seven years of probation, six months of home confinement and community service, after serving 10 months at a facility for youthful offenders.
He must also make monthly restitution payments that will total $15,000.
The second incident, in February 2018, resulted in the defendant being hospitalized for more than two months, undergoing multiple surgeries and continuing to need physical and neurocognitive therapy.
The defendant’s six-month jail sentence was suspended for four months home confinement and two years of unsupervised probation. He must also pay $1,274 in restitution and perform community service.
Finally, in the second fatal incident, the defendant was found not guilty of negligent homicide after a two-day trial in November 2018.
Two of the cases were the result of drivers running red lights and the third,  DUI with death
In the aftermath of two of those three cases, civil lawsuits were filed for damages, including punitive damages, which are designed to punish certain behavior and stem similar conduct.
One of those lawsuits ended last fall in the family of the deceased  being awarded $7.6 million; $1.25 million that was punitive.
Last week, the family of a woman struck and killed Feb. 1, 2018, sued the woman who struck and killed their daughter.
To date, no such lawsuit has been filed in the third incident, where the victim was seriously hurt.
It’s obvious that there’s a serious problem with traffic issues in Morgantown, ranging from narrow, decrepit roads to constant congestion. However, the most egregious problem  is the outright disregard for traffic laws by too many drivers.
Still, it appears our courts hands are tied in   cases that result in death or serious injury.
But we would caution all drivers to remember if the crime itself — running lights and signs — doesn’t get you, the civil suit will.

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