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Injustice? Wisconsin trucker gets community service in homicide

What's a life worth? It's a question impossible to answer to everyone's satisfaction. But it's a question juries and judges have to grapple with on a regular basis.

In the case of a fatal truck accident caused last year by a Wisconsin trucker, a judge sentenced the man responsible to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service. Is that what a life's worth?

Many people would argue that the life lost should be worth much more than that. They would argue that the truck driver convicted of negligent homicide in the death of a 68-year-old Michigan man should have to sacrifice something more than a few weeks of community service.

The 50-year-old trucker from Beloit had no previous criminal record at the time of the accident. And he did have to spend 52 days in jail after his arrest following the crash (as part of his sentence, the judge gave him credit for those days served). And he must pay a fine of $2,118.

The man who died was in the back seat of his brother's car when the tractor-trailer slammed into it at 60 miles per hour, failing to slow for traffic that was moving at only 30 mph. The big rig weighed 49,000 pounds.

Unsurprisingly, the victim was dead at the scene of the crash.

There's probably no perfect answer to the question of what a life is worth, but for many who have lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, they're certain that justice involves more a few weeks of community service for the guilty party.

Those families that have lost loved ones often understand that a wrongful death lawsuit can bring everyone involved to a level of justice our criminal courts too often can't deliver.

Resource: The Herald-Palladium: "Wisconsin trucker sentenced to probation for deadly crash": January 26, 2011

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