No matter how it happens, the loss of a loved one is never easy. After the fact, there may be a memorial service to plan, family coming into town on short notice, and paperwork to fill out, all on top of dealing with the emotional impact of your loved one’s passing.
A fatal car accident may leave family members in shock and searching for answers. When a fatal collision takes place, surviving loved ones often wonder whether someone can be held responsible for the resulting costs. A skilled wrongful death attorney in CarAccident.Law’s network may be able to help you determine the best next steps after a fatal car accident.
What is a Wrongful Death?
A “wrongful death” occurs when an individual or entity’s negligent or reckless behavior leads to someone’s untimely passing. Negligence is defined as a failure to act reasonably given the circumstances and thereby causing or contributing to an otherwise avoidable loss, injury, or death. In the case of a fatal collision, a driver’s actions or inaction behind the wheel may contribute to a wrongful death.
Wrongful Death Car Accidents Caused by Driver Negligence
Any number of factors can contribute to a fatal motor vehicle collision, including poor road conditions, bad weather, and defective vehicle parts. Liability isn’t always clear in those circumstances, but it is often more discernable when a driver’s behavior causes a wrongful death. Driver negligence that commonly leads to wrongful death car accidents includes:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Unsafe lane changes, resulting in head-on collisions or sideswipe accidents
- Using a cellphone or engaging in other distractions while driving
- Ignoring the right of way
- Drowsy driving
If any of these behaviors result in someone’s passing, the negligent driver could be held liable for their wrongful death. It may be best to consult with a lawyer about your situation so you can better understand your rights and options after a wrongful death auto accident.
Wrongful Death Car Accidents Involving Trucks
Wrongful deaths are unfortunately common in car accidents involving semi-trucks, largely due to the size and weight of commercial vehicles. In such cases, a truck driver or their employer may be liable for the individual’s passing and the resulting damages.
For example, if a shipping company expects their truck drivers to ignore the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s limits on how long they can be on the road in order to meet deadlines, they may face civil liability in the event of a wrongful death car accident resulting form drowsy driving. Another example would be if the truck’s cargo is loaded improperly or left unsecured in the trailer, liability for a fatal car accident could belong to the shipping company. In other words, a truck driver’s behavior on the road may be attributable to their employer’s negligence, and the company may be included in a wrongful death car accident claim brought by the decedent’s loved ones.
Additionally, if an investigation reveals that a third party hired by the trucking company performed improper maintenance on the truck involved in a wrongful death car crash, that third party may be found partially liable for the resulting damages.
In many states, the deceased person’s spouse or children can bring a claim after a fatal car accident with the help of a wrongful death attorney. If the decedent is not married and does not have children, their parents may be able to file on their behalf instead. However, in some state like Massachusetts, only the executor of the decedent’s estate may file a wrongful death claim.
What Might a Wrongful Death Claim Settlement Cover?
A wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit that covers similar expenses as well as others. A key difference is that a wrongful death lawsuit is filed on behalf of the decedent, so the settlement aims to recover compensation for expenses and injury incurred by the decedent or their estate. Surviving loved ones often pursue the following damages in wrongful death car accident claims:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages if the decedent had to miss work as a result of their injuries before their passing
- Loss of income if the decedent was their household’s breadwinner
- Loss of consortium
Unlike an insurance claim, a wrongful death car accident lawsuit also allows surviving loved ones to pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that the decedent experienced before their passing. If you are uncertain about what may be recoverable in your situation, get in touch with a wrongful death lawyer to discuss your options with a professional.
Learn How to File a Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawsuit
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO FILING A WRONGFUL DEATH CAR ACCIDENT LAWSUIT
Learn about what goes into filing a car accident lawsuit for damages. Consult with a lawyer to learn about how a wrongful death may impact the civil claims process after an accident.
How Can a Wrongful Death Car Accident Lawyer Help?
If you lost a loved one in a fatal collision, finding the right lawyer to help you through the case may be critical to securing a fair outcome. The first step is to schedule a consultation with CarAccident.Law, where we can discuss details of your situation and review evidence. If you decide to hire a wrongful death attorney, they will likely begin an investigation that may include reviewing police reports and photos or video footage from the scene of the accident, interviewing witnesses, determining who is liable for your loved one’s passing, and putting together a comprehensive demand package on your family’s behalf.
An experienced wrongful death attorney knows the legal process well and understands what you are going through in the aftermath of a fatal collision. Compassion and experience go a long way after a wrongful death car accident.