Fatal car accidents cause irreparable damage to their victims. Though, the immediate victims are not the only people who are impacted. When those victims die, their families are also left with a hole in their lives that is not easily filled.
Still, civil courts attempt to remedy this by offering surviving family members the option to file a wrongful death claim against the negligent drivers who caused the death of their loved ones. Finding success in such a claim requires patience and persistence, but it is possible. Though, without the aid of a Smyrna fatal car accident lawyer, the route to acquiring a wrongful death settlement or judgment is far more difficult to navigate.
Fatal Car Accidents Are Happening More Often
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 38,824 people were killed in traffic accidents throughout 2020. The number of deaths grew in the next year, with 42,915 people dying in car accidents. This is bad news because it means that more people are dying in car accidents, and more families are being disrupted by these tragic events.
Sadly, many of these fatal car accidents are avoidable. Had the negligent drivers who caused the accidents been more responsible on the road, there is a chance that nobody would have died. Yet, here we are — your loved one has been killed, and you are struggling to cope with the financial, emotional, and potential physical consequences of the accident.
If you believe negligence caused the death of your family member, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf. Through such claims, you can recover the damages that will help your family deal with the losses they have incurred. A fatal car accident lawyer in Smyrna can help you find out what it takes to file a claim and recover the compensation you are due.
The Purpose of Wrongful Death Actions
If someone dies due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another party, the surviving members of their family can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. In many cases, the at-fault person does not end up paying the settlements that are won themselves. Instead, their insurance company will provide financial compensation.
Through the claims process, you stand to recover compensation equal to “the full value of the life of the deceased person.” In order to do so, you must prove that quantifiable damages were caused by the defendant. This involves providing evidence that the defendant was negligent in their actions, that they did not uphold their duty of care to your loved one, and that their negligent actions are what caused the deceased person’s death.
You must also prove that the damages that you are requesting suit the amount of losses your family has incurred. Without a specific understanding of civil law, achieving this can be incredibly difficult. So, hire a Smyrna fatal car accident attorney to ensure that your wrongful death claim holds up throughout negotiations and, if necessary, in court.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
You should not assume that you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim simply because you are related to someone who died in a fatal car accident. In order to file, you must be one of several family members who are considered next-of-kin. The people who are eligible to file include:
- Surviving children
- Surviving parents
- Surviving spouses
- Representatives of the deceased person’s estate
If you are a cousin or sibling, you are not technically the next-of-kin. Therefore, you will not be able to file a wrongful death claim without going to one of the aforementioned family members and having them file it. Surprisingly enough, grandparents are also not eligible to file a wrongful death claim for their deceased grandchildren.
Potential Damages in a Fatal Car Accident Claim
Through wrongful death claims, civil courts intend to provide plaintiffs with compensation equal to the perceived value of the decedent’s life. Their family member’s life was cut short. Therefore it is expected that there will be significant impacts on the quality of life available to the surviving family members.
By filing a wrongful death claim, these survivors stand to recover economic and non-economic damages associated with the life that the deceased would have lived.
The economic damages include any tangible losses that were incurred due to the fatal accident. Some examples of economic damages include:
- Wages the deceased may have earned had they lived
- Medical bills associated with injuries sustained in the accident
- Property damage
- Lost opportunities
The non-economic damages are losses that are not easily measured as financial costs. Instead, they include factors like:
- The relationships that were broken by the accident
- The loss of companionship associated with the accident
- The pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they died
Calculating damages is difficult, especially when it comes to non-economic damages. Having a Smyrna fatal car accident lawyer to advise you will ensure that you get exactly what you are due and not less.
Do Not Speak to the Insurance Companies
Insurance companies always work to minimize their own liability. If your loved one died in a fatal car accident, they will certainly call you to learn more about the accident. What you say can be used against you when you go to file a claim, so do not divulge any information. Politely hang up and speak to a fatal car accident attorney in Smyrna.
Your lawyer will handle all negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company. By allowing them to do so, you save yourself the stress of having to watch what you say due to the risks of it being used to weaken your claim.
Get the Compensation You Are Due
We understand that you are devastated by the loss of your loved one. Yet, you should not allow that to keep you from taking action against the at-fault party. With proper legal guidance, you may be able to recover full compensation for the value of your deceased family member’s life.
While it will not replace them entirely, it will offer you a safety net that can be used to maintain the standard of living you had together. Work with a Smyrna fatal car accident lawyer now to get more information about the first steps you should take. To have your case evaluated, speak to a lawyer by submitting the contact form on this page.