Jurors recently awarded $15 million to the children of a California woman who was killed in a hit-and-run truck accident. The children were 11 years old and four months old at the time of the accident. The family's attorney says that the verdict brought closure and financial security for the children.
The 28-year-old woman and her mother were crossing the street in a crosswalk around Christmas in 2010. A large semi-truck turned onto the road and struck them as they walked in the crosswalk. The driver then left the scene. The woman died during surgery at a hospital. Her mother was pronounced dead at the scene.
It took authorities three days to identify the driver and link him to the scene. He was not charged with a crime, but the family was able to file a wrongful death claim to find justice. Criminal cases and civil cases have different standards of proof and hare handled differently in other ways.
The $15 million award includes punitive damages, according to news reports. Usually, plaintiffs who file wrongful death or personal injury claims seek damages to recover their losses, such as lost wages, medical costs, pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Punitive damages are intended to punish wrongdoers and can be awarded in addition to damages intended to compensate victims.
Source: ABC 23, "Brother and sister get awarded $15M for mother's wrongful death case," Crystal Figueroa, March 29, 2013