Losing a loved one in a car accident can be devastating. It can be even more difficult when the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In such cases, it may be possible for family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. Learn who can file a lawsuit for wrongful death and factors to consider when hiring an attorney.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe a situation where someone’s death is caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another person or entity (source). In other words, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies as a result of someone else’s wrongful conduct.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
In most states, only certain people are allowed to sue for wrongful death. These people are typically the deceased person’s immediate family members, such as their spouse, children, or parents. However, the exact list of eligible family members can vary depending on the state.
Can a Family Member Sue for Wrongful Death After a Car Accident?
Yes, family members can sue for wrongful death after a car accident if the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, says Forbes. In fact, car accidents are one of the most common causes of wrongful death lawsuits.
To successfully sue for wrongful death after a car accident, the plaintiff (the family member suing) must prove that the defendant (the person or entity being sued) was negligent or committed some other wrongful act that caused the accident and the subsequent death. This can be done by showing that the defendant:
- Was driving recklessly or under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Was texting while driving or otherwise distracted
- Failed to obey traffic laws or signals
- Was speeding or driving too fast for the conditions
- Failed to maintain their vehicle properly
If the plaintiff can prove that the defendant was at fault, they may be able to recover damages, such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness
- Lost income and financial support that the deceased person would have provided to their family members
- Loss of companionship and emotional support
It’s worth noting that some states have caps on the amount of damages that can be awarded in wrongful death cases. Additionally, the plaintiff must usually file their lawsuit within a certain time frame after the death (known as the statute of limitations), which can vary by state.
Hiring a Wrongful Death Attorney
If you’re considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident, it’s important to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney. These attorneys specialize in representing the families of people who have died due to the negligence or wrongdoing of others.
A wrongful death attorney can help you navigate the legal process, gather evidence to support your case, and negotiate with the defendant’s insurance company or legal team. According to GED Lawyers they can also explain how to file a wrongful death claim or represent you in court if your case goes to trial.
When choosing a wrongful death attorney, it’s important to look for someone with experience in car accident cases specifically. You should also consider their track record of success in wrongful death cases, as well as their communication style and fees.
It’s important to keep in mind that wrongful death lawsuits can also help bring attention to unsafe driving behaviors and help prevent future accidents. By holding responsible parties accountable for their actions, it sends a message that reckless or negligent driving will not be tolerated and can result in serious consequences.