Losing someone you love in a car accident is one of the most unbelievably heart-wrenching, traumatic experiences you could ever go through. Such a collision can profoundly impact your wellbeing for years to come. Further, you will likely be left with the steep financial challenges of covering their funeral costs and receiving psychiatric support. You can ease the weight of these burdens by filing a wrongful death claim against the negligent driver and securing compensation to cover these costs and more. To learn more about how you can go about this, see the information below.
What to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
You have the right to file a lawsuit against the individual responsible for your loved one’s death in an auto accident. Doing so requires that you prove three things:
- The defendant had a duty of care to drive attentively and responsibly.
- The driver was negligent, and so violated that duty of care.
- This negligence was the direct cause of your loved one’s death and the related expenses incurred.
Before you initiate a wrongful death claim, know that different relatives or associates of the deceased individual are allowed to sue under various circumstances. For example, in most states, only the parents, spouse, or children of the deceased can pursue legal action on their behalf. Further, a few states expressly prohibit siblings from suing for the loss of their relative.
Additional exceptions to this general standard come about in estate claims, for example. In these cases, a representative of that estate can file a wrongful death claim. This representative is likely to be someone appointed by the probate court. They would be responsible for administering the deceased person’s belongings, among other matters, and would file the lawsuit in their own name. (Despite this, compensation awards would still be given to the appropriate recipients.)
How to File Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To build your case and prove the elements listed above, follow the steps below:
- Call the police. The police report will reflect all aspects of your car crash, including their perspective on liability.
- Gather as much evidence as possible, including eyewitness contacts. Demonstrating the fault of the negligent driver requires ample documentation of the crash. Take photos and videos and collect witness’ contact information to build a substantial case.
- This documentation is a fundamental part of demonstrating the negligent driver’s responsibility to compensate for any damages* you incurred.
- Hire a wrongful death lawyer. A lawyer is critical to developing a strong case to hold the appropriate party responsible for your loved one’s death. These lawsuits can be quite complex, so a lawyer’s guidance is essential to making this process more bearable
*Many damages can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. These include:
- Pain and suffering (For example, many suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after suddenly losing a loved one in an accident.)
- Funeral expenses
- Hospice and other medical care
- Loss of inheritance
If you’re ready to initiate a wrongful death claim and recover the funds necessary for your loved one’s funeral expenses and all other related financial impacts, contact a wrongful death lawyer today.