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Families protest lack of charges after fatal Tennessee crash

After losing a loved one in a fatal traffic accident caused by someone else's negligence, many Tennessee families feel a need to hold the negligent driver accountable. However, many of them find the criminal justice system does not address all the family's needs when it comes to doling out justice.

Recently, the families of a young couple who were killed in a Tennessee traffic accident earlier this year held a press conference to protest the fact that prosecutors had dropped plans to charge the truck driver who apparently caused the accident. The two young people were on their way to the Bonnaroo music festival when a semitrailer truck plowed into their car while traffic was slowed due to an earlier accident. The truck driver was apparently unable to stop his vehicle in time and crashed into several vehicles, including another tractor trailer.

Authorities originally cited the truck driver for failure to exercise due care and were considering other charges. The driver had a previous citation on his record.

Criminal charges are just part of the story after a fatal traffic accident. When someone is killed due to another driver's negligence, the family of the victim may be compensated for damages through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Truck accidents are inherently more likely to lead to death or serious injuries than other traffic accidents, simply because of the size and weight of large trucks. They can also lead to different legal issues than other accidents.

After typical traffic accidents, a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is filed against the negligent driver, but in truck accidents there may be other parties liable as well. In some cases, the driver's employer may be held liable because it contributed to the accident through negligent maintenance of the vehicle. In others, the trucking company may be held liable because it contributed to the accident through violating federal trucking safety regulations, such as those designed to combat truck driver fatigue.

Tennessee residents who have been injured in a truck accident -- or the families of those killed in these accidents -- should understand their legal rights and if a lawsuit is a good option for them. These lawsuits can serve the cause of justice by holding negligent drivers and companies accountable for their wrongdoing.

Source: News Channel 5, "Families of Couple Killed in Bonnaroo Crash Want Charges Filed," Oct. 15, 2013

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