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Bad intent not mandatory to file California liability claim

Many California residents believe a liability lawsuit may be filed only against defendants charged with or convicted of crimes. Certainly, there are many instances when a defendant faces criminal and civil charges, but that's not always the case. Negligence is not always a crime, but evidence of a crime can be used to establish negligence.

Damages are frequently the end result of a liability trial. The compensation covers losses experienced by an injured victim or a family after the accidental death of a loved one. Civil trial defendants are not imprisoned or put on probation. They are held accountable financially for failing to consider the safety of another person.

A little boy was riding his bike along a sidewalk while waiting with his mother for an older sister's school bus to arrive. At the same time, a nearby dump truck driver shifted in reverse to park his vehicle.

Authorities believe the 3-year-old couldn't control the bike and rode beneath the backing truck. The boy was killed. Police did not bring charges against the 40-year-old driver, an acquaintance of the boy and his family. Truck crash investigators aren't expecting a driver toxicology test to yield any results to change the conclusion that the collision was a "tragedy."

The victim's aunt wondered whether the truck driver was alert to the fact that neighborhood children frequently played in the area.

An inattentive truck driver can be found negligent in a wrongful death claim. A distraction doesn't have to be illegal or purposeful for a driver to be held accountable in a liability case. Every motorist owes a "duty of care" to other drivers and pedestrians.

Juries compare what a defendant did with what another person would do under similar circumstances. Damage decisions are based on whether the defendant's behaviors or inaction was "reasonable," not on criminal intent. When intent is a factor, damages increase proportionately.

Source: bayoubuzz.com, "3-year-old dies when hit by dump truck" No author given, Oct. 31, 201 

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