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Impaired drivers who kill parents may have to pay child support

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

No amount of prison time for a drunk or drugged driver can bring back a loved one who’s been killed because of their decision to get behind the wheel. Neither can any amount of compensation. Nonetheless, surviving family members deserve to see the criminal justice system hold people responsible for their actions and expect assistance dealing with the financial ramifications of their death – especially when it comes to children they leave behind.

Last year, Kentucky enacted two laws to toughen penalties on impaired drivers who kill. Thanks to one of these laws, vehicular homicide is a Class B felony. This can mean up to 20 years in prison for the offender.

The other law applies when the impaired driver convicted of vehicular homicide kills or permanently disables someone who is the parent or guardian of a minor child. Under the law, they can be ordered to pay restitution to help support that child until they reach the age of 18 (or 19 if they’re still in high school at 18). 

How is restitution determined?

In determining the amount of restitution to order, a judge is allowed to consider things such as:

  • The financial resources of the adults who will be caring for the child
  • The child’s standard of living prior to the crash.
  • The cost of meeting the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.

The child may have been injured in the crash as well. Even if they weren’t, losing a parent or even having a parent suddenly catastrophically injured and disabled can have a serious emotional effect on a child.

The financial resources of the convicted driver also have to be taken into account. Likely, they’ll be behind bars for a time, with no source of income. That doesn’t absolve them of their financial responsibility. They have up to a year after their release to begin making payments, and they must pay the total amount they were ordered to back when they were sentenced, even if the child has long since become a legal adult. 

All victims and surviving loved ones whose lives have been forever changed because of the actions of an impaired driver need to know what their options are for holding those responsible liable for financial and other losses in addition to any criminal penalties they may be facing. By getting sound legal guidance as early as possible, you improve your chances of getting fair compensation as you move forward.