What Is A Wrongful Death In A Car Accident?

Losing someone you love in a car crash is devastating and as if the grieving process isn’t difficult enough, you have to deal with the aftermath of the accident, including the financial future of your family. A wrongful death claim is brought on when someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligence. If your family member died in a car crash, it is essential that you make informed decisions that will best serve you and your family. A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit designed to seek compensation for the survivor loss, such as lost companionship, lost wages from the deceased, pain and suffering, medical expenses and/or funeral expenses.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim Due to a Fatal Car Accident

There are two primary features that a wrongful death claim due to a fatal car accident needs to be successful:

  • The accident must have been caused by someone other than the victim of the accident. This may include the driver of another vehicle, the driver of the car the victim died in and/or the auto maker. Someone other than the deceased had to have acted with negligence which caused the accident.
  • Insufficient insurance. Unfortunately, many wrongful death claims due to fatal car accidents are because the driver at fault did not have adequate insurance or enough personal assets to provide full compensation to the surviving family of the deceased. A wrongful death attorney will know where to look for available assets or insurance where the value of the wrongful death claim can be recovered. For example, if your loved one died because the car they were driving failed to protect them, family members can recover the compensation for the claim from the automobile manufacturer. Read our previous blog about insurance and accidents here and here.

Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

Although there are a number of unfortunate reasons why your loved one may have died in a car accident, the primary causes of fatal car accidents include:

  • Drunk and reckless driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Weather conditions
  • Distracted drivers
  • Elderly and/or inexperienced drivers
  • Car manufacturing defects
  • Highway and street defects

Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?

There is a wide variety of companies, employees, persons and government agencies that a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought against. For example, if there is a fatal accident involving a drunk driver and a faulty roadway, defendants for the wrongful death claim may include:

  • The builder or designer of the faulty roadway
  • The employer or the driver at fault for the automobile accident
  • The owner of the home or business where the alcohol was served or the person or persons who served, sold and/or gave alcohol to the impaired driver
  • The distributor, manufacturer or installer of a dangerous and/or faulty part of the vehicle
  • A government agency that failed to provide any adequate warnings regarding the road hazard that resulted in an accident

The Importance of Having A Wrongful Death Attorney

If your loved one died in an automobile accident as the result of someone else’s negligence, the most import step is to contact an attorney who specializes in wrongful death from a car accident. There are several steps that need to be taken in order to file a wrongful death claim, but your attorney will handle the process for you, including obtaining police reports, medical records, witness statements and the insurance company responses. There is a statute of limitations for the amount of time following the accident in which you can file a wrongful death claim, so it is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.

During your initial consultation the attorney will request any records and information you have regarding the accident, discuss the payment for services, which is often done through contingency (the fees are taken out of the final settlement) and whether you have a valid case or not. Having a knowledgeable  attorney can make all of the difference in the well-being as well as the financial future of your family. An attorney understands that while the money will not bring back your loved one, it will help to relieve some of the burden of your future.