Even a relatively minor car accident can seem scary at the time – the sudden reality check of the sheer mass and power of a moving vehicle, and how delicately our health and safety hangs in the balance. In the worst of situations, an serious vehicle collision can result in a fatality. This can shake all parties involved to their very cores.
Usually the last thing an individual who has just lost someone in an accident wants to think about is legal battle. It is possible to recover financial compensation for funeral expenses, medical bills, and pain and suffering if the fatal accident was someone else’s fault.
Here are your legal rights following a fatal car accident:
Wrongful Death Claims
Following the death of a loved on in a car accident, the surviving family members might have a wrongful death claim. Similar to personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death suits, and claim that a person’s death was the result of somebody else’s reckless, intentional, or negligent actions.
Generally speaking, there are two types of compensation that the plaintiff in a wrongful death case may be entitled to.
- pecuniary damages – to compensate for financial losses like lost wages, medical bills, etc.
- punitive damages – punish a party’s bad behavior.
The laws surrounding punitive damages in wrongful death suits vary by state. Here are just a couple examples of this:
- Some place caps on the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover
- Some prohibit punitive damages in wrongful death claims,, and
- Some may allow the plaintiff to recover pain and suffering damages.
States also have time limits on when a plaintiff can file a wrongful death claim.
Car Accident Claims
In regard to fatal car accidents, surviving family members could have claims against several parties, including: auto manufacturers, other drivers, or even government entities. Every vehicle collision is different, but they will usually require proving that the person who died was not at fault for the accident. This means gathering important information from the accident, including photos from the scene, testimony from eyewitnesses, and police reports, among other evidence.
In some cases, a driver’s insurance may cover a victim’s damages, or offer a settlement. If not, you may need to file a lawsuit to hold the party responsible and get fair compensation. Car accident lawsuits, and especially wrongful death claims, can be complex and complicated affairs, both legally and emotionally.
If a family member has died in a car accident, contact an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney at the Law Offices of Zappettini and Bradley today — We are happy to review your claims for free.