When accident victims or their families make the decision to file a civil lawsuit, there is often a palpable bitterness that goes along with it. An accident that causes serious injuries or loss of life also creates long-term emotional trauma, not to mention a tremendous financial burden. So it's understandable that those who file personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits often do so with anger and resentment.
But those negative feelings can take their own toll on plaintiffs and prevent them from getting on with their lives. Is it possible to seek financial compensation and inner peace at the same time after an accident? One San Jose family seems to have done so. The couple lost their daughter in a horrific car accident caused by two men who were racing each other down a Santa Clara street in March 2011. The 23-year-old woman was leaving her job at a bowling alley when one of the speeding cars crashed into hers.
The men, ages 19 and 25, were charged with felony speeding and causing injury; both faced up to six years in prison. But a letter to the judge from the young woman's parents led to a jail sentence of just under a year for both men. The couple asked the judge to be lenient on the defendants, both of whom had apologized and taken responsibility for the crash.
The defendants' remorse also led to a settlement in the civil lawsuit the couple filed against them. The victim's parents said that while they continued to grieve for their daughter, they wanted to forgive the men and acknowledge that they held themselves accountable for the young woman's death.
A willingness to forgive someone who causes a serious accident doesn't prevent victims or their loved ones from filing a civil injury lawsuit, or vice versa. In many cases, having both can help plaintiffs move on with their lives more quickly.
Source: Mercury News, "Judge sentences street racers who killed woman in Santa Clara," Tracey Kaplan, Dec. 4, 2012
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