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Foolish choices on the road can lead to criminal charges

People are rarely charged with a criminal offense just for a car accident even when someone is seriously hurt or killed. The types of mistakes that sometimes lead to bad accidents are still usually just ordinary mistakes -- called negligence -- that anyone could make in a moment of inattentiveness or poor judgment.

That wasn't the case, however, with the car accident that claimed the life of an 82-year-old Louisiana man from Caddo Parish. The victim was driving on a road with a no-passing zone with several cars behind him. He had slowed to make a left turn onto another road when one of the cars behind him, driven by a 19-year-old male, swerved into the opposite lane at a high rate of speed.

The speeding driver was likely trying to race past the backed up traffic and the turning car in order to get on his way faster. Instead, he rammed into the driver's side of the older man's car as it turned, running it off the road and flipping it into a ditch.

The older driver was pronounced dead at the scene and deputies arrested the younger man on a charge of negligent homicide.

In order for negligence to be regarded as actually criminal, it has to involve something more than an ordinary mistake -- the conduct has to be unreasonably risky and indicate a total lack of concern for the safety of others.

In Louisiana, the violation of a state ordinance alone -- like not trying to pass in a no-passing zone -- is considered evidence of that kind of negligence and the punishment is severe. The driver who caused the accident could serve up to five years in prison with or without hard labor and a receive a fine of up to $5,000.

If you were injured or a close relative was killed in an accident on the road caused by a reckless driver who didn't seem to have any regard for anyone else's safety, an attorney can provide more information about the possibility of a lawsuit to recover your losses.

Source: KSLA, "Wreck kills Keithville man; another faces homicide charge," Curtis Heyen, March 16, 2017

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