What Happens When Someone Dies Due to a Car Accident?
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injury and death in the United States. From young drivers who have just started operating a vehicle to motorists who have 30 years of driving experience, everyone is somewhat at risk of getting into an accident. Not all drivers are behaving responsibly, and when heavy vehicles travel at high speeds, even the safest drivers can make mistakes that turn deadly.
In the most tragic of circumstances, a car accident could result in fatal injuries and the death of a driver or passenger. This type of loss can be devastating, especially since it is so sudden and shocking. When a car accident victim dies, their family members and loved ones are left reeling from the loss.
What Happens After a Fatal Accident?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that around 42,915 people in the United States died as a result of a motor vehicle accident in 2021. This number sheds a harsh reality on the prevalence of distracted driving, driving while under the influence, and careless or reckless driving.
When a car accident causes a fatality, the topic of wrongful death may come up. Depending on the circumstances of the car accident, the other driver could be found to have behaved negligently, causing the accident that led to a fatality. In this case, a wrongful death lawsuit could be brought against the driver. Sometimes, drivers face criminal charges as well.
However, even sober drivers can make a mistake that results in a car crash. In any case, wrongful death could be the result of a car accident, and filing a wrongful death action is on the table after a fatal accident.
What Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Involve?
A general wrongful death happens when someone else’s negligence causes a loss of life. If a family member can prove that negligence lead to the loss, then they could file a wrongful death claim against the guilty person. For wrongful death cases involving fatal car accidents, this is a possibility for grieving families who are suffering.
There are several aspects involved in a wrongful death case that come into play and could determine whether the victim’s family is successful with their claim.
Who Can File?
A surviving spouse is first in line in terms of who can file for a wrongful death claim when someone dies in a car accident. Adult children and parents can also pursue legal action after a fatal car accident. If the only surviving immediate family members are minors, a personal representative could file on their behalf. Essentially, whoever handles the deceased person’s estate would be able to file.
In Tennessee, there is a comparative fault clause where claims depend upon which party is at fault and by what percentage. Liability in a car accident could be difficult to prove for a wrongful death lawsuit. If at least a portion of the accident was the fault of the victim, the potential compensation for damages to other family members will drop.
The filing party must prove that the fatal accident was due to the negligence of another and that the deceased person died because of the actions of the other driver. Potentially, a vehicle manufacturer could also be liable for wrongful death if a mechanical failure caused the accident. Or, if a company vehicle involved in the crash caused severe injury or death, the company could be partially liable.
Building a Case
Proving fault is difficult in wrongful death lawsuits. There must be enough compelling evidence to indicate that the other driver was liable for the car accident.
Types of evidence
Evidence could come in the form of a police report, eyewitness accounts, pictures of the crash scene, proof of mechanical failure, CCTV footage, or other empirical data. If a drunk driver is the at-fault party, then a breathalyzer test after the accident would serve as strong evidence.
Damages are the main purpose behind any wrongful death or injury claim. The family of the victim could be suffering under the weight of financial struggles such as funeral expenses, burial costs, medical bills, lost wages, and more. These are all damages for which you could seek compensation.
There are other reasons to pursue wrongful death compensation. Emotional damages such as mental suffering also allow victims to recover compensation. These emotional effects of a sudden death accident sometimes add to medical expenses. Even though a monetary value is hard to attach to these types of damages, they can still factor into the level of financial compensation received. For families who are struggling after someone dies in a car accident, this financial assistance can help cover expenses to ease the burden.
Working with a Wrongful Death Attorney
When a car accident results in a loved one’s death, the surviving family deserves the chance to ease some of their sufferings. Although it cannot replace the loss, the ability to seek compensation can help these victims deal with financial struggles when a fatal car accident destroys their families.
Negotiating with the Insurance Company
For a wrongful death action after a car accident, the insurance company of the at-fault driver may pay out less than the family deserves. This will not be enough to cover funeral and burial costs, nor replace potential lost income or medical bills for other non-life threatening injuries that occurred in the auto accident. Some of the damages assessed could be affected by the insurance policy of the driver, and insurance companies tend to lowball on victim settlements.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help the family negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement to help pay for funeral costs, medical expenses, or emotional suffering when an accident occurs.
Help Compile Evidence
Determining liability when someone dies in a fatal car accident is difficult to do on your own. Wrongful death or personal injury lawyer can help you compile evidence that will strengthen your case and give you a better chance of success.
Contact Mitch Grissim & Associates for Your Wrongful Death Claim
Our legal team is fully equipped to support you through the wrongful death claim process. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case upfront and lay out the best path forward.
Let us help you recover from the tragic loss after a car accident by pursuing the financial settlement you deserve when a wrongful death occurs. Whether the accident was the fault of drunk driving, reckless behavior, or a simple mistake, you deserve a small measure of justice to be served.
Call our office today at 615-255-9999 to speak with an attorney about your insurance claim, injury claim, or wrongful death action.