Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident

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Losing a close family member is never an easy thing to accept, especially after a fully preventable loss.

Unfortunately, some people drive recklessly, carelessly, or while they are drunk, and bring about a fatal car accident that leads to someone else’s untimely death.

When that happens, certain family members may qualify to pursue a wrongful death claim or lawsuit depending upon the jurisdiction where the fatal car crash happened.

If you recently lost a loved one in a car accident that resulted from someone else’s negligent behavior, always consult an experienced wrongful death attorney in Madison as soon as possible.

Your attorney can handle the necessary legal steps to obtain the financial compensation, justice, and closure that you and other surviving family members need and deserve.

Although no monetary compensation can ever replace your lost family member, it can help to bring about a sense of finality and justice.

First, a wrongful death lawyer can meet with you to determine your eligibility for pursuing wrongful death compensation via a claim or lawsuit. Your attorney can file the appropriate claim on your behalf and negotiate with insurance company representatives for the fair monetary compensation you deserve.

Additionally, if the insurance company does not offer you favorable settlement compensation, your lawyer can pursue wrongful death litigation in the court system and handle every step of the process for you.

Even in a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not on your side, and they will do everything they can to avoid a large financial payout in your case.

Your attorney can aggressively advocate for your legal interests and work to maximize the compensation you and other surviving family members receive for the loss of your loved one.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim or Lawsuit?

Several categories of surviving family members may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, depending upon the jurisdiction where a fatal car accident happens.

Common examples of individuals who can file a wrongful death claim include a surviving spouse of the deceased individual, along with children, parents, siblings, and distant relatives, if no other surviving family members are alive.

Wrongful Death

Also, in some jurisdictions, the court must first appoint a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate before filing a wrongful death claim.

Once someone has opened an estate, the personal representative – or PR – can file the appropriate wrongful death claim or lawsuit seeking monetary recovery.

Your attorney can determine your eligibility for pursuing wrongful death compensation and take the necessary steps to move your case forward.

After filing a wrongful death claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company, your lawyer can begin negotiating the claim on your behalf and working to recover the full compensation you need.

Types of Car Accidents That May Lead to a Wrongful Death Action

Unfortunately, when motorists drive carelessly and recklessly, they may cause a serious accident that leads to one or more fatalities.

Some of the most common types of car accidents that result from driver negligence – and which may lead to a fatality include:

  • Head-on collisions, where the front of one vehicle hits the front of another vehicle, usually occur when the at-fault driver is not paying attention or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Broadside or T-bone collisions, usually happen at a traffic intersection when a driver runs a red light, yield sign, or stop sign and fails to yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is traveling on an intersecting road
  • Rollover accidents, where a driver drives too fast around a sharp curve or fails to take prevailing traffic and weather conditions into account when operating their vehicle
  • Pedestrian accidents, where a driver fails to lawfully yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian who is present in an intersection crosswalk or in a parking lot or parking garage

If someone you love recently suffered fatal injuries in a car accident, involve a wrongful death attorney in your case as quickly as possible.

If the accident circumstances are unclear or if the insurance company is disputing liability (or fault) for the accident, your attorney can retain an accident reconstructionist or other individual who can visit the scene of occurrence, obtain forensic evidence, take measurements, review police reports, and speak with witnesses about how the accident happened.

The accident reconstructionist can then draft their own report about how the accident occurred and who was ultimately responsible. In your case, that individual can also testify as a witness during a discovery deposition or civil jury trial.

Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents

Fatal car accidents frequently occur when motorists deviate from the standard of care by violating one or more traffic laws. For example, a motorist may negligently cause a fatal car accident if they speed (especially in adverse weather or traffic conditions), fail to yield the right of way, and violate other common traffic laws.

Wrongful Death Cause

A motorist may also cause a fatal collision if they engage in road rage – or reckless driving. Specifically, a negligent or angry driver may attempt to pass other vehicles at improper times, fail to use their turn signals, or aggressively tailgate other vehicles, bringing about a serious accident.

Fatal motor vehicle crashes can happen when a driver does not watch the road carefully. For example, a driver may fail to look in their mirror or use their backup camera when pulling out of a parking space, negligently striking a pedestrian behind them with significant force.

Similarly, a distracted driver may cause their vehicle to leave its travel lane, cross a double line or median strip, and collide with an oncoming vehicle.

Distracted driving can take many forms, but some of the most common examples involve:

  • Combing one’s hair while driving
  • Applying make-up
  • Eating and drinking while driving
  • Texting on a tablet or cellular phone
  • Programming a GPS navigation system
  • Adjusting the volume on a car stereo system
  • Listening to loud music
  • Roughhousing with vehicle passengers
  • Disciplining young children seated in the vehicle

These activities may cause a driver to lose their mental focus or take their eyes off the road, preventing them from observing an approaching motorist or pedestrian and causing a fatal accident.

Finally, some fatal car crashes happen because of legally intoxicated drivers.

In most situations, a passenger vehicle operator who is 21 years of age or older is legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches a level of 0.08 percent or greater.

A legally intoxicated driver may be physically or mentally unable to drive in a safe, prudent, and careful manner, given the circumstances. This is because alcohol and drugs can severely alter a driver’s perception, mindset, concentration, and muscular coordination.

As a result, the intoxicated driver may experience blurred vision, dizziness, delayed reflexes and reaction time, poor judgment, and other serious symptoms that cause them to make a serious mistake while on the road, leading to a fatal car accident.

If you recently lost a loved one as a result of another driver’s careless or reckless actions, talk to a wrongful death attorney near you as soon as you possibly can. Your wrongful death attorney can handle the legal components of your case while you and other family members take the time to grieve the untimely loss of your loved one.

Types of Wrongful Death Monetary Damages

As part of a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, the individual who brings the claim – or the claimant – may receive monetary damages.

The types of wrongful death damages that a claimant may recover will depend upon the jurisdiction where the federal car accident happened and whether or not there are any caps on damage amounts.

First, a claimant may be eligible to receive monetary compensation for burial and funeral costs, along with other out-of-pocket expenses related to their loved one’s untimely death.

Additionally, a claimant may pursue monetary compensation for the loss of the decedent’s future income if the claimant or other family members depend upon the decedent’s income for ongoing support.

Wrongful Death Victim

In some jurisdictions, a wrongful death claimant may recover compensation for the decedent’s pre-death pain and suffering, along with related medical expenses that the decedent incurred between the time of their fatal car accident and the time of their passing.

Finally, a claimant may pursue monetary compensation for the loss of the deceased individual’s companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel, and care.

A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in your jurisdiction can determine which damages you may be eligible to recover in your claim or lawsuit.

Since every car accident case is different, not all wrongful death claimants will receive the same monetary damages. However, your attorney can review the circumstances of your case with you and can estimate the likely amount of your monetary award, either from a favorable settlement offer or a successful litigation result in the state court system.

Successfully Proving a Wrongful Death Claim

A knowledgeable wrongful death lawyer in your area can file a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf. In most scenarios, your attorney will deal with the insurance company for the at-fault motorist who caused the fatal accident.

At the beginning of the claim, your wrongful death attorney can submit copies of police reports, funeral expenses, medical treatment records, medical bills, video camera footage of the accident (if available), witness statements, and a copy of the decedent’s death certificate.

If the insurance company accepts fault for the accident, then settlement negotiations may commence.

During settlement negotiations, your attorney will typically ask for a specific amount of money within the limits of the available insurance policy coverage. The insurance company adjuster will then respond to the settlement demand letter with a monetary offer.

However, even in a wrongful death claim, these offers are typically far below the case’s true value. In other words, there is almost always additional money on the table, no matter the adjuster’s initial settlement offer amount.

Your wrongful death attorney can zealously represent your legal interests during ongoing settlement negotiations and push for additional compensation on your behalf.

Also, if that compensation is not forthcoming within a reasonable amount of time, your lawyer may file a wrongful death lawsuit in court and resolve your case through the litigation process.

If your case does not settle during litigation, then your attorney may take your case to a civil jury trial or pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in your case, such as mediation or binding arbitration.

Throughout the case, your attorney can provide the information necessary to make informed and intelligent decisions. For example, your lawyer may counsel you on whether or not it is a good idea to accept a particular settlement offer from the insurance company or whether you may be better off litigating your case to a conclusion in the court system.

Speak With a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Your Area Right Away

If you lost a loved one in a fatal car accident that resulted from another driver’s reckless or careless act, you are not alone.

A skilled and compassionate wrongful death lawyer in your jurisdiction can handle every step of the legal process for you. Since wrongful death claimants must file a lawsuit within three years of their loved one’s death, time is of the essence in your case.

William Pemberton, Madison Wrongful Death Lawyer
William Pemberton, Wrongful Death Lawyer

Moreover, if you do not file a timely wrongful death lawsuit in the court system, the court will prevent you from recovering any monetary compensation as part of your case.

Once you retain a wrongful death lawyer to represent you in your case, they can immediately start advocating for your legal interests. Specifically, your attorney can investigate the fatal car crash’s circumstances and gather the documents necessary to prove your case.

Additionally, your lawyer can handle all settlement negotiations on your behalf and represent you during any litigation proceedings that take place in the court system.

Finally, your lawyer can determine how best to resolve your case so that you and other surviving family members recover the full monetary compensation you need and deserve for your loss.

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