BOISE and NAMPA, Idaho. A recent Slate article reads like a horror story or murder mystery. In the article, Chinese drivers hit pedestrians, and then, rather than getting out of the car to help, they put their vehicles in reverse and hit the same person again, sometimes driving forward a third time, just to make sure the person is, in fact, dead. This may seem like a freak crime, something that only happens in horror movies, but in fact, it is actually common in China, where loopholes in the country’s wrongful death laws create incentives for drivers to kill pedestrians they hit rather than personally injure them. In China, drivers who kill pedestrians, pay a one-time wrongful death recovery to the victim’s family. However, drivers who injure pedestrians are responsible for paying for lifetime care of the victim. With victims who have been seriously injured, this can cost millions.
The cases are known as “double hit” cases, and many drivers don’t face criminal charges. Drivers often deny knowing that they were hitting a person. Part of the problem has to do with the paltry amount of money victims’ families are allowed to collect when their loved ones die in a wrongful death case in China. While the U.S. doesn’t see the kind of intentional murder that is reported in China, wrongful death caps in Idaho can sometimes create a situation where a driver who kills a victim could end up paying much less in damages than a driver who seriously injures a victim. After all, ongoing medical care and lost wages (when paid for many years) can turn out to cost a negligent driver much more than funeral costs and emergency trauma care.
The Law Offices of Johnson & Lundgreen understand that those who suffer wrongful death due to another person’s negligence deserve justice. The firm works closely with families to help them seek the maximum compensation permitted under the law, regardless of whether the case involves wrongful death or personal injury.
It is not likely that the U.S. will see the kind of blatant disregard for life that Slate reports to exist in China. For one, hit and run criminal laws make the penalties quite severe for individuals who leave the scene of an accident in the U.S. Vehicular homicide charges can also put individuals in jail for years were they to intentionally harm someone in the states. Under Idaho law, individuals face up to 15 years in jail for vehicular manslaughter, and possibly longer sentences for using a car as a murder weapon.
While Idaho law puts limits on how much families can collect in non-economic damages in wrongful death cases, families still have many more options in Idaho than they do in China. For instance, individuals can collect damages for lost financial support due to the death of the individual. For families who lose their primary breadwinner, these laws protect their livelihood and future, and cover lost wages. If you have lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence or neglect, you are not alone. You have options. Visit http://johnsonandlundgreen.com/ to learn more and to protect your rights.