Our Wisconsin readers may know that it is possible for someone to face civil litigation and criminal charges for the same incident and end up with different results in each case. In recent times the O.J. Simpson murder trial is an example of this happening. Simpson was found not guilty of murder of his wife and another man in criminal court, but was found liable for their deaths in civil litigation.
Recently it was reported that a 21-year-old La Crosse man is facing multiple criminal charges related to a car accident which killed a passenger in his car. The car crash took place on Highway V and Karau Avenue south of Spencer at about 3:30 in the morning. The car driven by the 21-yeaer-old struck a power pole and his 22-year-old female passenger died at the scene. The 21-year-old was also seriously injured and required treatment at an area hospital.
The charges the 21-year-old is facing include homicide by negligent operation and homicide by OWI. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Council, if the homicide by negligent operation is charged as a class H felony, the 21-year-old could be facing six years in prison.
In addition, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired could constitute negligence, in which case the 21-year-old could be sued in civil court for the wrongful death of his passenger.
Once again using Simpson as an example, it is possible to win the wrongful death litigation, but could be difficult to collect any compensation due to a variety of factors.
Source: WSAW, "Man, 21, Charged with Homicide in Fatal Spencer Crash," July 31, 2012
At our La Crosse law firm we handle wrongful death litigation and represent families who have lost a loved one due to drunk driving or other negligent behavior.