Many of our readers may be unaware that in Nevada, it's possible for many types of misdemeanor charges to be dropped and the case to be settled out of court. That's what happened last month for a 66-year-old man who was facing two charges of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.
The defendant reportedly took responsibility for fatally striking a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl this summer. The man reportedly was on his way to the grocery store when he felt himself about to have a seizure, but continued driving anyway.
The district attorney in Washoe County considered charging him with felony reckless driving causing death. However, the DA's office said that they couldn't prove that the man intended to endanger anyone's safety.
This wasn't the first vehicular incident for this man related to his medical condition. The specific condition wasn't reported. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, he had another accident during a medical episode in 2013. In the last 13 years, he's had at least a half-dozen suspensions of his license.
The terms of the settlement that the driver reached with the family of the two children were not disclosed. According to Reno City Attorney Karl Hall, his office had no legal standing for further pursuing the misdemeanor charges or for opposing the settlement. He noted that he intends to work on making policy changes that could help prevent drivers with medical conditions that make driving risky from harming or killing others.
Obviously, not all surviving family members of such a tragic accident would agree to a settlement with an at-fault driver that could save that driver from facing criminal penalties. Many families opt to pursue civil litigation apart from the criminal case against the defendant. It's up to each victim or family, in consultation with their attorneys, to decide how to proceed.
Source: ABC News, "Criminal Charges Dropped for Nevada Driver Who Killed 2 Kids," Sally Ho, Associated Press, Dec. 10, 2015