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Can I sue for wrongful death if my loved one died in a Milwaukee drunk driving accident and there is a criminal DUI case pending in Wisconsin?

Yes. A civil wrongful death case, brought by the survivors of the person who was killed in the drunk driving accident, and a criminal DUI case, brought by the state of Wisconsin, are independent legal proceedings.

There are important differences between a civil wrongful death case and a criminal drunk driving case. In addition to who brings a case, as described above, differences include:

  • Evidence needed for the plaintiff (in a civil case) or prosecutor (in a criminal case) to win. As the plaintiff in a civil case, you do not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was drunk when he or she killed your loved one. Instead, you need to prove that the driver was negligent by a preponderance of the evidence—meaning that it was more likely than not the driver’s negligence that killed your loved one.
  • Potential damages and punishments. Only a criminal case will result in jail time. Likewise, only a civil case will result in damages for you. Thus, the possible endings of a criminal case and a civil case are different.

It is normal to have a lot of questions about the legal process after a loved one has been killed in a Milwaukee drunk driving crash. Our Milwaukee fatal accident attorneys encourage you to contact us directly at 1-800-800-5678 or 414-223-4800 to have your questions answered. We also invite you to download a FREE copy of our book, The Ultimate Guide for Automobile Accident Victims, for more information.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham