A 2003 Nebraska law will be tested for the first time this month in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Cheyenne County's District Court. The law, which extends the legal rights of an unborn fetus, will be applied in the case of a fatal automobile wreck which killed a pregnant mother and her family of four.
According to an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle, the wreck was caused after an exhausted commercial truck driver rear-ended a passenger car into another stalled big-rig. In addition to four vehicular manslaughter charges against the driver, attorneys have included the unborn fetus as a "minor" in a vehicular homicide charge.
To date, this law has yet to be applied in a civil case; however, Nebraska prosecutors have cited a criminal version of the law in several drunk-driving instances. Similarly, both the Utah and Alabama Supreme courts have ruled in favor of an unborn fetus in prior wrongful death and medical malpractice cases.
While the outcome of the case is yet to be determined, it may serve as a precursor to future fetal death laws.
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