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Fatal Missouri auto accident: Driver sentenced; Wrongful death?

A foreign national attending Missouri State University on a student visa has finally been sentenced in criminal court for his role in a fatal car accident dating back to Dec. 2010. The 26-year-old man originally pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He was accused of causing an auto accident that took the life of a 24-year-old man near the university. In Nov. 2012, he withdrew his not guilty plea and admitted guilt.

A prosecutor said the pedestrian accident occurred after the accused man lost control of his car. Though the speed limit in the area of the auto accident was 35 mph, authorities indicated he reached speeds equivalent to highway driving. The pedestrian was carried on the vehicle after the sidewalk crash until the car broke off part of a utility pole. The victim was tragically flung to his death in the process.

The criminal court sentenced the now convicted man to jail for 120 days. He was also required to undergo treatment for substance abuse, in addition to completing other conditions. The prosecution had requested a prison sentence of four years, and it was not clear what led the court to sentence the man to a shorter period of incarceration.

The family of the deceased victim may feel that some sense of justice has been achieved as a result the man's conviction stemming from this fatal auto accident. Regardless, the surviving family still has the option of seeking further accountability by pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in a Missouri civil court room. Since the driver pleaded guilty, proof of that conviction may be offered in a related civil action as evidence of liability. Once liability is established to a court's satisfaction, it will hear claims for reimbursement of monetary damages sustained as a result of the tragedy.

Source: Ozarksfirst.com, "MSU Student Sentenced for 2010 Fatal Pedestrian Crash," Jan. 4, 2013

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