How to File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident in 2024

A claim for wrongful death allows you to fight for justice and fair compensation for your loss.

file a wrongful death claim

Experiencing the loss of a cherished individual is among the most difficult challenges of life. The anguish can be exacerbated in situations where their demise is preventable, as in the case of a family member lost in a car accident.

You may require some solitude after losing a loved one in a car accident in order to recover and find solace in your devastating loss. However, it is crucial to discuss your case with an Atlantic City wrongful death attorney as soon as feasible following the decedent’s passing. You have the ability to fight for justice and equitable compensation for your loss by filing a claim for wrongful death.

Read More: How Does a Plaintiff Prove Wrongful Death in Texas?

What is Considered a “Wrongful Death?”

As the term suggests, an unlawful death transpires when an individual succumbs to unjustifiable causes of death. Typically, the demise ensues from acts of negligence, recklessness, or deliberate intent.

A wrongful fatality transpires due to the actions of an individual else. As a consequence, the family of the deceased victim might be able to pursue legal recourse against the culpable party in order to recoup financial damages.

Wrongful Death Following a Car Accident

Car accidents occur on a daily basis. Tragedy may result from a collision, contingent upon the extent of the incident and the elements that contributed to the collision. Individuals who have lost family members to negligent motorists can empathize with the anguish that accompanies such a tragedy.

Vehicle collision-related fatalities have steadily risen over time. In the preceding year, there were 46,980 fatalities resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Fatal collisions resulting from driver negligence persist, notwithstanding advancements in vehicle safety mechanisms and more stringent regulations pertaining to distracted and impaired driving.

Although state-by-state, vehicular mortality rates are considerably higher in more populous and heavily traveled regions, including Florida, California, and New York. Vermont, Rhode Island, and Montana are among the states with the lowest-toll automobile accidents.

Although advancements in vehicle safety technology have been consistent over the years, driver behavior remains a significant factor in car accidents, frequently compromising the effectiveness of protective features.

Frequently, fatalities resulting from automobile collisions are averted, compounding the anguish of bereavement. As soon as possible after the death of a family member in a car accident, you should seek legal counsel and pursue justice.

Common Causes of Car Crashes that Result in Death

Automobile accidents transpire due to an extensive array of factors. Still, specific factors increase the probability of fatalities arising from automobile collisions:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Road conditions
  • Vehicle defects and malfunctions

Engaging in these perilous driving behaviors and circumstances may heighten the likelihood of a severe collision that results in substantial bodily harm and fatality. In car accident wrongful death cases, the cause of the collision is a critical factor that must be accurately identified.

Wrongful Death Claims

Claims for wrongful death are categorized within the domain of personal injury law. As an alternative to tort law, personal injury law grants injured parties the ability to pursue recompense and legal action for the damages inflicted by a third party.

Injured parties are typically held liable through personal litigation filed by the injured parties. In wrongful death cases, however, the surviving family members assume the role of the deceased victim and seek compensation for their personal losses.

Claims for wrongful death can be especially difficult to manage because they frequently force family members to endure the loss of a loved one. However, securing reparation for unlawful death can significantly alleviate a portion of the economic strain that bereaved families endure in the aftermath of an untimely death.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

An individual cannot simply initiate an unlawful death lawsuit. It is essential to review the statutes of your state, as each state handles wrongful death claims in a unique fashion.

Frequently, personal representatives are obligated to initiate claims for wrongful death. An executor, or personal representative, is the person appointed to administer an individual’s estate following their demise. One of their responsibilities could involve managing the unlawful death case of the deceased.

In other states, the claim may be filed by a surviving family member of the victim. Contingent on the circumstances, this may consist of:

  • Spouses
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Financial dependents

After a car accident, a local wrongful death attorney can explain the laws and requirements of your state regarding the filing of a wrongful death claim.

Compensation Available for Wrongful Death Claims

The purpose of damages for wrongful death is to provide reparation to the bereaved families for the financial harm suffered due to the demise of their loved one.Compensatory damages encompass both financial and non-financial damages.

The following damages may be recoverable in the event of a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost earnings and benefits the victim would have received
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of care and companionship
  • Loss of consortium

In certain instances, punitive damages might also be awarded. In contrast to compensatory damages, the purpose of punitive damages is not to absolve the families of the victims of their losses. However, in cases where the defendant’s conduct was willfully malevolent, negligent, or grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded to penalize the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.

It is crucial to calculate your damages precisely in order to receive complete and equitable compensation. An accomplished legal practitioner can conduct an exhaustive analysis of the wrongful death’s particulars and quantify the monetary worth of your case.

Is there an “Average” for Wrongful Death Settlements?

A frequent inquiry directed at wrongful death attorneys pertains to the existence of a mean settlement amount in cases involving this nature. The determination of the average settlement for surviving family members is not possible due to the fact that each case is distinct.

Some of the factors that must be considered when determining the value of your case are as follows:

  • The age at which the victim was: Age may significantly influence the “worth” of a wrongful death claim; cases involving younger victims may be “worth” more than those involving elderly individuals, despite the fact that this may seem unfair.
  • It is the victim’s profession: The greater the victim’s income and number of benefits, the more probable it is that their case will be awarded more.
  • Members of the victim’s family: It is critical to take into account the size of the victim’s family, as a greater number of members is likely to experience a more pronounced impact from the loss of financial assistance.
  • Negative economic impacts: By analyzing evidence such as medical invoices and receipts for funeral expenses, your attorney can determine the full extent of your financial loss resulting from the decedent’s passing.
  • Limits on insurance policies: When the defendant’s insurance company provides compensation for damages, policy limits must be examined, as they establish the maximum amount of money that is accessible.
  • Statutes of states: Certain damages are capped in some states, limiting the amount that a plaintiff may recover in a wrongful death lawsuit.

By meticulously scrutinizing these particulars, an attorney specializing in wrongful death can ascertain the true value of your case. Gaining an understanding of the monetary worth of your case is crucial in order to secure the most equitable resolution feasible.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident

State-specific wrongful death lawsuit filing requirements can be complicated and intimidating if you lack familiarity with the applicable laws and procedures. This is among the foremost rationales for the critical nature of pursuing legal counsel. A local, qualified attorney can guarantee that your case is handled in a timely and effective manner.

Establishing Liability

Liability establishment is a pivotal component in the prosecution of unlawful death claims. This is contingent upon the particulars of the circumstance.

Many wrongful fatalities in automobile collisions are the result of negligence. Negligence is the failure of a party to act reasonably, as an individual in a comparable situation would have done.

In order to establish the negligence of a party, the following elements of negligence must be present:

  • Duty owed: The defendant owed the victim a duty of care.
  • Duty breached: The defendant’s actions resulted in a breach of their duty of care.
  • Causation: The defendant’s wrongful actions were the cause of the car accident.
  • Damages: The car accident resulted in the victim’s death.

Proving negligence requires proof, which a wrongful death attorney can acquire. Strong evidence includes:

  • Police reports
  • Surveillance and traffic camera footage
  • Medical bills and expenses
  • Witness statements
  • Expert witness testimony

Demonstrating how the negligent party’s improper conduct led to the demise of the victim is crucial in advancing your pursuit of appropriate compensation for your damages.

Overview of the Wrongful Death Claim Process

The specific procedure for a wrongful death claim is contingent upon the conditions of your case and state law. A local wrongful death attorney can therefore provide you with a more accurate assessment of what to anticipate.

Your attorney will frequently begin by sending a demand letter to the insurance company of the negligent party. The demand letter comprises particulars pertaining to the catastrophe as well as information concerning the liability of the insured. Your attorney requests a settlement and a monetary sum commensurate with the value of your case.

The insurance provider has the option of either settling the demand or engaging in settlement negotiations. In certain instances, the insurance provider may unequivocally decline to reach a settlement, in which case your attorney may pursue legal action.

The formal initiation of the case occurs when the opposing party is served with the litigation and submits their response to the petition. The parties engage into the discovery phase at this juncture.

Discovery entails the exchange of answers and information between the disputing parties. They can construct their cases and bolster their arguments with this information. This phase of a legal proceeding consumes the most time, particularly in cases that are more intricate and entangled.

Once discovery has concluded and all parties have obtained the necessary evidence for their respective cases, the process of pursuing a resolution can commence.

Settlement vs. Trial

Civil cases are typically resolved through trial or through a settlement.

A successful resolution to your case is desired. Typically, parties engage in settlement negotiations until they reach a mutually acceptable resolution. A case settlement is advantageous for all parties involved, as it can result in substantial time, financial, and inconvenience savings.

When parties are unable to reach a settlement or agreement, the case proceeds to trial. The judge (or jury) renders the verdict at trial. They are able to ascertain the “winning” party and, should you prevail, the amount to which you are entitled.

Thankfully, unlawful death cases are typically resolved amicably outside of court. Upon the resolution of your case, you will be granted payment and permitted to resume your daily activities.

Read More: Who Can Claim Wrongful Death Compensation On A Victim’s Behalf

How Long Does a Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

After experiencing the tragic loss of a family member in a car accident, the last thing on your mind likely is a legal battle. However, it is important to note that the statute of limitations for filing a claim for wrongful death is quite brief. Depending on the legislation of your state, you may have between one and six years to file a lawsuit.

Acting expeditiously is advantageous for your case and provides your attorney with additional time to effectively manage your claim. Prolonged delay may have adverse consequences for your case. Failure to adhere to this deadline may lead to forfeiture of the right to seek redress or financial compensation for one’s damages.

Determining Whether You Have a Valid Wrongful Death Claim

Having lost a family member in a car accident may cause one to question whether or not one has a viable claim for unlawful death. Curiosity may motivate you to seek guidance from the internet or individuals who have encountered comparable circumstances. Conversely, nothing surpasses the value of legal counsel provided by an unlawful death attorney.

An attorney with substantial experience in wrongful death cases is the most valuable resource. A lawyer can respond to your inquiries and concerns, assist you in comprehending wrongful death cases, and provide you with sound legal counsel.

After the demise of a family member in a car accident, you should arrange an appointment with a local wrongful death attorney. An astute wrongful death attorney possesses the expertise to ascertain the viability of your claim.

After Losing a Loved One in a Car Accident, Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer

While money cannot buy back a deceased loved one, it can assist you in coping with the financial tribulations that frequently ensue after their passing. If a family member has been killed in a car accident, consult with an attorney specializing in wrongful death immediately to discuss your case.