When a family files a wrongful death claim as the result of losing a loved one in an accident, they may be able to include parties other than the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident. For example, a West Virginia physician has been sentenced to two years in prison in connection with a car accident that occurred back in April 2009. The physician had prescribed pills to the driver that caused the accident.
The physician's patient caused an accident that took the lives of three people. The driver has been sentenced to 30 years in prison as a result of the accident. According to an assistant U.S. attorney, the former physician was charged and sentenced for providing prescription medications to the driver that are known to be addictive. Over the course of approximately three years, the patient had been prescribed nearly 6,000 pills that contained oxycodone and hundreds of pills for Endocet, which is an addictive painkiller. According to the physician, she knew her patient was addicted to the medications, but she kept prescribing them anyway.
The patient that caused the accident was required to submit to pill counts and drug tests in accordance with her pain management agreement. Even though the patient failed these tests on numerous occasions, nothing was done. Records indicate that the doctor continued prescribing medications to the driver even after the fatal accident.
The families of the victims retain the right to file wrongful death claims against any party or parties that are deemed negligently responsible for the death of their loved ones. Sometimes, this includes parties that were not directly involved in the accident. According to West Virginia law, the family must show that negligent actions of another either caused or contributed to the death. It is not required that the party be directly involved in the car accident.
Source: The Herald Dispatch, "Dawson sentenced in pill case," Jean Tarbett Hardiman, Jan. 7, 2013