Weather is often blamed for a fatal accident, but it is sometimes more a driver’s reaction to deteriorating weather conditions than the weather itself that should be blamed. All drivers know that poor road conditions, whether due to snow, ice or rain, warrant a lower, safer speed and require a longer braking distance than ideal conditions. This is all too clear for one Nebraska family whose lives were forever changed by a fatal accident that took place during a snowstorm.

In Dec. 2011, a 2-year-old Nebraska boy lost his life when a tractor-trailer ran into the back of his family’s car during a snowstorm. The little boy and his father, who suffered from a broken shoulder as a result of the accident, had to be extricated from the wreckage. The boy’s mother escaped with a small cut and whiplash while his little sister managed to escape injury totally. The boy’s death left the family devastated and prompted his mother to push for criminal charges to be pressed against the truck driver.

In late May, the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office finally charged the 56-year-old driver with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide. This ended a nearly 18-month wait by the family. The mother stated, after the prosecutor announced the charge, that the family was “extremely pleased.”

If convicted, the truck driver faces up to a $1,000 fine and a maximum of one year in jail. Regardless of whether he is convicted by the Nebraska court, the charge itself carries with it a weight that may help the family should they file a wrongful death claim over the fatal accident. Moreover, if a conviction is achieved, proof of it may be used to establish liability in any related civil claim. While no amount of money can ever bring the toddler back to his family, the family may take some solace in holding the party or parties deemed responsible fully accountable for their actions.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, “Family ‘extremely pleased’ with charge in toddler’s I-80 death,” Jonathan Edwards, May 31, 2013