United States pedestrian fatalities are at their highest level since 1988. Recent data shows that 6,590 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2019, a 5% increase from 2018 and the continuation of a trend starting in 2009. The combination of light truck use, bad driving behaviors and unsafe road crossings are partially to blame for this trend. Smartphones and increased levels of technological distraction, an all too familiar distraction of everyday life, were recognized culprits both behind the wheel and on U.S. walkways. Smartphones and automobile high-tech amenities distract drivers, while music or noise cancelling headsets decrease pedestrian awareness of dangerous surroundings on busy streets that may lead to accidents.
Pedestrian deaths continue to pile up in Omaha, where a 57-year-old man recently died at the scene of a hit-and run crash at 84th and Q streets and police were looking for a driver of a pickup truck who fled the crash scene. Nebraska incidents of pedestrian deaths are 62% higher than previous four-year averages representing a dangerous trend originating from distracted drivers and pedestrians. Car accidents took the lives of 230 Nebraskans last year, including 24 pedestrians.
Sometimes accidents include a criminal component resulting in a hit-and-run situation due to fears of being prosecuted for the illegal act. Nebraska law requires drivers to stop as the scene of an accident and exchange information. Failure to stop and comply with this law makes an accident a hit-and-run, which is a Class II misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time. Hit-and-runs can also be classified as a felony, which has more serious consequences. Fines could reach up to $20,000 and up to 15 years in prison. A hit-and-run conviction means a license can be suspended or revoked.
Wrongful death – civil and criminal charges.
Nebraska Revised Statutes section 30-809 defines “wrongful death” as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another party. A wrongful death claim may be filed against the estate of a person whose wrongful act, neglect, or default caused death, if that individual has also passed away. A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit and must be filed by the personal representative, or surviving family member.
Criminal charges for homicide and hit-and-run situations can be filed by the prosecuting attorney, and penalties may include incarceration, probation, fines, or other penalties. Although a wrongful death claim in Nebraska may be filed while a criminal case is simultaneously pursued, consulting with a Nebraska wrongful death lawyer is a wise course of action as they have the experience to determine exactly how the criminal case may affect the wrongful death lawsuit, and vice versa.
Statute of limitations.
There is a two-year time period in which to initiate a lawsuit for a wrongful death claim in Nebraska.
A legal action seeking monetary compensation can ensue when a driver causes injury or death to a pedestrian, often with the assistance of legal counsel.
Damages that may be recovered include:
Nebraska does not allow family members to seek damages for their own pain and suffering in wrongful death actions.
Seek legal counsel.
A personal injury attorney at Rensch & Rensch Law Firm can assist with questions and filing legal insurance documents after death occurs in a car accident.