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Inmate convicted for motor vehicle death

A Nebraska woman was killed after she was involved in car accident in June 2013. The 47-year-old woman was in her minivan when she was struck by a 36-year-old male inmate who was transporting other inmates in a prison van. He was driving as a part of the state's work release program. The program, which has been used since its conception in 1985, was discontinued two weeks after the incident.

Investigators say the inmate was swerving and speeding when he struck the woman in the minivan. Correctional department officials maintain that inmates' driving records and criminal history are reviewed before they are permitted to drive the transport vehicle. In addition, inmates driving the vehicles are subject to weekly drug tests. The inmate who caused the death was serving a five- to seven-year sentence for criminal mischief, threatening people and dealing methamphetamine. He pleaded no contest to manslaughter charges for the 47-year-old woman killed in the accident.

On June 16, the inmate received 18 to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the incident. The woman's family filed a lawsuit against the state alleging that it was negligent for allowing the inmate to drive, claiming he was under the influence when the accident occurred. According to the lawsuit, the inmate's history of drug abuse, along with other factors, should have compelled officials to prohibit him from driving the vehicle. State officials agreed to compensate the family with $2 million for her death.

Lawyers often examine police reports, witnesses' statements and evidence reports to identify grounds for filing a negligence claim against a defendant. Plaintiffs of wrongful death claims in Nebraska are permitted to seek compensation equivalent to the amount in damages sustained. Legal counsel may be able to assist plaintiffs with assessing the impact of the economic losses throughout the remaining future.

Source: Time Union , "Nebraska inmate sentenced for prison van crash", June 16, 2014

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