Nothing is as devastating as losing a loved one in a car accident. It comes without a warning sign and there’s nothing to prepare you for such a horrific ordeal. Whether it’s a spouse, a parent, sibling, or child, the challenge of coping with such a loss can take a toll on the family emotionally, psychologically, and most of all, financially. While no amount of money can bring back your loved one, getting justice for the cruel act of negligence from the party responsible may help to provide the family with a sense of closure so they can move forward.
There are so many causes of road accidents. Some can be prevented while others, well, no one is to be blamed. If you live in the US, especially in certain areas of Texas, the information and statistics about car accident fatalities on this URL might shock you. However, the best part is that you get to know you’re not alone and apart from this, you get to understand how an accident attorney can help you file a wrongful death claim and get justice for the deceased.
Accidents caused by negligent motorists can be prevented by ensuring that such drivers never get back on the road again. In addition to this, there is a great need for desensitization programs that advocate for auto safety, preventing motorists from driving while under the influence and driving while texting, just to name a few driving vices and distractions. But what about the families grieving the loss of a loved one as a result of a car accident? In this piece, we’ll be shedding more light on how to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident.
Defining a Wrongful Death
In layman’s terms, wrongful death is a death caused by wrongful acts. Wrongful acts may involve negligence or default. There are various situations through which a wrongful death can occur. Some of these include the intentional infliction of pain and suffering to a victim, leading to their death; through a medical malpractice, and in our case, through car accident fatalities involving acts of negligence. Now, given the fact that the victim is no longer able to file a lawsuit, it’s the responsibility of those within the circle of descendants’ estate to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased. Here’s how:
1. Have the Right Documents
It’s very important that when considering to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident, you arm yourself with all the right documents. This will serve as part of the evidence that indeed your loved one is a victim of wrongful death. Before filing a wrongful death claim, the following documents should be on your hands, they include:
- Police reports from the scene of the accident
- Death certificate
- Medical records
- Autopsy report
- Family records and tax returns
Now, seeing that the deceased is not there to defend or speak for themselves, the above documents will help to provide the proof needed and speak volumes of what transpired on that fateful day. They will also allow the court to get an idea of what you have been through as the bereaved.
2. Determining Eligibility
Before you file a wrongful death claim, it’s very important to have all the facts needed in such a case. As earlier mentioned, having the right documents can help to prove that indeed the deceased was a victim of wrongful death. The only valid reason to file a wrongful death claim is if the victim died from a road accident, from medical malpractice, or killed through the intentional infliction of pain and suffering. While on the same note, only certain individuals will be allowed to file a wrongful death claim. It’s often done by the representatives and beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate, including the spouse, children, parents, grandparents, or siblings.
3. Lawyer Up
Wrongful death claims are emotionally challenging and in addition to this, they are complex in nature. These are not your everyday claim cases, especially noting that the victim is already dead and they cannot defend their rights in a court of law. You’ll also be dealing with aggressive insurance attorneys who are not after your family’s best interests and will do anything to sabotage the claim. Hiring a good wrongful death attorney will help increase your chances of getting fair compensation. Most wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and they’ll help you to understand your rights and rather than focus on the case, they’ll allow you to focus on healing and coping with your loss.
4. What Damages Can You Expect After Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?
After filing a wrongful death claim and depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, the victim’s family or the surviving family members are entitled to financial compensation. They may receive damages for:
- The deceased medical expenses
- The deceased’s suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of protection and care
- Punitive damages
While most of the aforementioned damages will be claimed on behalf of the deceased, some will be on behalf of the family members and will be compensated in a family member’s trust.
The emotional turmoil surrounding a wrongful death may cloud your judgment, especially when it comes to figuring out the necessary steps you need to take when filing a wrongful death claim after a car accident. The above pointers will help you to stay on track and focused on fighting for your loved one’s rights. The compensation will not bring your loved one back, but it’s the first step to your family’s financial recovery and a step closer to finding closure, so, take heart.