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Wrongful death claim may be filed in Massachusetts case

A Boston man accused of killing a cyclist is being held on $25,000 bail, according to court records. The 25-year-old was charged after Massachusetts authorities detained him in the suspected hit-and-run death of a 29-year-old man in the early morning of April 30. The man since turned himself in and is now awaiting trial. Apart from the criminal charges, the family of the victim appear to have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. 

According to the police investigation, around 3:30 a.m. a 29-year-old man was cycling with another individual when the driver reportedly struck him and drove off without stopping. The cyclist was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead of his injuries two days later. It appears the bicyclist accompanying him was unharmed in the accident. 

Police tracked the driver's vehicle to a garage where he allegedly parked 15 minutes after the crash. Passengers in his vehicle said they were awakened by the impact and that the driver had panicked. Police say they were in the process of negotiating with the man's attorney when he voluntarily turned himself in two days after the accident. He now stands charged with leaving the scene of an accident causing death, and police say more charges could be forthcoming. 

It remains to be seen if Massachusetts authorities will be able to secure a conviction against the driver in criminal court. Even if they do not, however, the family of the deceased man is likely entitled under state law to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver in civil court. They may also be able to utilize police evidence in proving their civil case. Of course, if a criminal conviction is obtained, proof of that may be sufficient to constitute negligence per se in civil court. In those circumstances, the focus of the civil claim would then turn to documentation of the damages incurred.

Source: CBS Boston, "Boston Man Held On $25K Bail In Fatal Back Bay Hit-And-Run", May 10, 2017

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