The sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one can be devastating for surviving family members and friends. Questions linger as to whether the loss could have been prevented. Fatal accidents are an inevitable in our society, however, due to the prevalence of traffic accidents. In many cases, the surviving family members of the deceased may be able to bring a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the loss of their loved one.

One such accident recently left a 17-year-old high school student dead. According to police, she was hit by a car while walking across Sloat Boulevard at Vale Avenue in San Francisco around 11:20 p.m. The teenager was dragged a short distance in the accident. She was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The 29-year-old driver of the car stopped at the scene of the accident. He was arrested by authorities on suspicion of felony driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter. The teenage victim was a member of her high school track team. She had recently been preparing for her first track meet.

Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one, the party responsible for a fatal accident can be held accountable for causing wrongful death. A wrongful death claim is a civil form of relief that is separate from any pending criminal charges. In the claim, the surviving family members of a victim file a lawsuit against the responsible party on behalf of the deceased’s estate. After the loss of a loved one, the last thing many family members may want to do is suffer the stress of litigation. For this reason, it’s important to know that many wrongful death claims are settled outside of court. A wide range of damages may be awarded, including pain and suffering and loss of companionship.

Source: CBS San Francisco, “DUI suspected in teen pedestrian’s death near San Francisco’s Stern Grove,” Mar. 4, 2013