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Nome hit-and-run could give rise to wrongful death claim

Pedestrians are almost always at risk of being involved in a tragic mishap when they walk near a road, and when they are out at night under reduced visibility, it can be even more dangerous. Drivers do not always pay attention to their surroundings, and those traversing the side of the road may be especially vulnerable. Unfortunately, an accident recently resulted in a pedestrian's death in Nome. The mishap could open the door to a civil wrongful death claim under Alaska law.

The episode took place early in the morning of April 12 at around 1:15 a.m. A Ford Explorer struck a 54-year-old man while he was walking with other family members. The driver then got out of his SUV and fled the scene.

When emergency personnel arrived, the victim was transported to the hospital. However, he was pronounced dead soon thereafter. The driver was charged by Nome police with leaving the scene of an accident, manslaughter and driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Regardless of whether the driver is ultimately convicted of the criminal charges, the family of the struck pedestrian may be able to seek compensation for the death of their loved one. They have a right to file a wrongful death claim, but they will need to prove their case in the Alaska courts by demonstrating that the driver was negligent. If the family is successful in establishing financial liability, the court will then consider claims for specific damages, such as the victim's final expenses or the family's economic losses due to the unexpected death. Families in these situations should know of possible remedies as they come to terms with what has happened and try to resume their normal routines.

Source: Anchorage Daily News, "Savoonga carver killed by hit-and-run driver in Nome", Zaz Hollander, April 14, 2014

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