When a wrongful death occurs, the person responsible can be subject to civil and criminal liabilities. When a wrongful death occurs either through negligence or some other means investigative officers start the investigation of the scene immediately. This can include taking photographs, measurements, and drug/alcohol testing. Any time there is a wrongful death involving a motor vehicle, the driver should be drug and alcohol tested. Any evidence that is collected will go into an investigative file; it is important to retain an attorney early as possible because access to these police records can be limited while the investigation is still ongoing for criminal charges. An attorney can help you take measures to ensure the preservation of evidence and most importantly preservation of the black box in wrongful death cases resulting from car accidents. The black box is an Event Data Recorder (EDR) that is used to record information about the car’s driving record, especially as it relates to the crash. These boxes can tell you acceleration speed, airbag deployment times, braking activity, seatbelt use, steering angles, throttle position, vehicle speed, and tilt.
When a wrongful death case is brought into the Criminal System, the family of the deceased is afforded certain rights. They have the right to be kept updated by the prosecutor on the case as well as the right to attend any plea hearings, sentencing hearings, and trials. They are also afforded the right to draft a witness statement that either they can read to the court or that the attorney can read for them.