What happens when someone dies in a car accident?
Every year approx.1.25 million peopleare killed in car accidents across the country. Some of them die on the spot, while others survive long enough to receive medical attention, but tragically succumb to their injuries. Surviving dependents of a driver or copilotkilled in a car accidentthey are often faced with overwhelming emotional distress and don't know who to turn to for help.
In this blog post, we try to answer one of your most basic questions: what happens when someone due to acar accident?
The "at-fault" driver can be sued, but not always
Many car accidents occur because the driver of one of the vehicles involved acted carelessly or recklessly. If that accident results in the death of another person, the driver may be prosecuted, for example, for manslaughter.
However, not all fatal accidents result in criminal liability for the "responsible" driver. The decision to charge a driver with a felony in a fatal car accident rests with the local district attorney, who evaluates a variety of factors to determine whether a driver was "criminally guilty" of causing the death. Promoters usually check that:
- The accident occurred under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcoholillegal in pennsylvania. a mortaldriving drunk or druggedAccidents often result in criminal charges against the driver.
- The driver drove recklessly and/or disobeyed traffic laws. All drivers are required by law to obey the Highway Code and be careful not to injure others. When a car accident results from a monstrousViolation of driving rules., asextreme accelerationor "road rage", the driver is often prosecuted.
- Whether factors beyond the driver's control played a role in causing the accident. Criminal charges are less likely to result from a fatal accident caused by a factor beyond the driver's control, such as: B. Poor road conditions, unforeseen mechanical failure, or "cases of God".
The deceased's estate can file a civil action for "wrongful death".
When a loved one dies in a car accident, the victim's surviving family members are entitled to receive care under Pennsylvania law.to file a claim for "wrongful death", and the victim could have filed a lawsuit for moral damages for the damage caused by the accident if he lived. These are the relevant considerations:
There must be a party with legal responsibility
Because survivors of a fatal car crash victim have a legal right toapply for financial compensation, there must be someone from whom you can claim compensation. In other words, the accident must be the result, at least in part, of the misconduct of a person other than the deceased victim of the accident.
Every car accident is different in this regard. Many car accidents result from careless or reckless actions on the part of a driver. In these accidents, the driver (and his insurance policy) are legally responsible.manslaughterkilled by someone However, experienced car accident attorneys know that when looking for the parties legally responsible for a tragic death, they should not stop at "the other driver". Instead, they investigate accidents to determine whether one or more parts, other parts, or additional parts were "at fault" for causing the fatal accident.
The attorney's investigation may include investigating whether the accident was the result of:
- mechanical failuresIf the mechanical failure of a part of the car, such asReifenplatzers- caused a fatal car accident, the victim's survivors' attorney may want to investigate whether this error was due to a "defect" that made the part "excessively dangerous". Under Pennsylvania law, manufacturers of "unreasonably dangerous" auto parts face possible legal liability for damages caused by their defective products, including automobile accidents that result in the premature death of a person. Similarly, auto mechanics can be held liable if the repairs they make (or fail to make) to a vehicle are inappropriate.dangerous and caused an accident.
- Serving excessive alcoholic beverages to a guest in a bar or restaurant.Under Pennsylvania law, it isillegalBars and restaurants can serve alcoholic beverages to a "visibly drunk" guest. Violation of this law may subject these entities to liability for manslaughter if a user causes death.drunken traffic accident.
- driver's employer.In Pennsylvania, employers are generally legally responsible for the actions of their employees "in the workplace". If the driver of a commercial vehicle causes a fatal accident through negligent or reckless driving, the driver's employer may owe compensation to the victim's family. Likewise, the employer can be held liable "directly" if the employer's own actions contributed to the cause of the accident, eg the condition.
Every car accident is different. An experienced auto accident attorney knows he must examine the facts closely to identify all the parties that may have contributed to the tragic death of a client's loved one.
The personal representative of the testator's estate must bring the action
A wrongful death claim can only be brought for personal injury resulting from the death of a person killed in a car accident.Under Pennsylvania lawthe personal representative of the deceased has the right to bring an action "only in favor of the spouse, children or parents of the deceased".
Damages recovered in a wrongful death penalty will be distributed pursuant to the will of the deceased person, if any, and if not, in accordance with Pennsylvania laws governing the distribution of an estate of a person who died without making a will. If there is no spouse, child, or parent seeking damages in a wrongful death claim, the personal representative of the deceased person's estate may still file the claim "to seek damages for reasonable hospital, nursing, medical, funeral, and administrative damages." for injuries resulting in death.
The action may attempt to repair a variety of damages.
Compensation sought by the personal representative in a wrongful death claim covers both claims the deceased may have made as a result of the car accident and certain additional damages resulting from the death itself. These damages usually include:
Your loved one's medical expenses before death. In some cases, a car accident can result in the death of your loved one hours, days or even weeks after the accident. Due to the severity of your loved one's injuries, medical bills can add up quickly. Compensation for these medical expenses is usually part of a wrongful death claim.
Expenses arising from the death of your loved one. Additional costs associated with the death of a loved one such as B. Funeral and burial expenses are also often elements of damages claimed in a wrongful death claim.
Your loved one's pain and suffering before death. Many injuries cause significant pain before causing the victim's death. If your loved one lived for some time after the accident, a wrongful death claim may seek compensation for that pain and suffering.
Loss of income for your loved one. Wages that your family member could not earn in the period between the accident and the day of death, as well as future income that your family member would have earned without the death, are also included in the calculation of the death benefit. an injustice in a death.
Loss of services provided by your family member. Even if your loved one is not working, their loss can cause significant financial hardship for the family. Often the value of services provided exceeds the value of a loved one's income, for example. for:
- cook for the family
- caring for an elderly loved one
- hearing care
- Maintenance of living space.
- vehicle maintenance
If you lose a loved one who provided these services, it may be necessary to hire someone else to provide them, often at extremely high financial cost. In many cases, professionals cannot fully replace the value your loved one has provided to the family, but they can alleviate some of the stress you are feeling as a result of this loss.
Loss of the presence, support and companionship of your loved one. For underage children, this can mean missing out on parental guidance and advice. For the spouse of the deceased, this could mean the loss of the marriage, as well as the loss of his or her life partner.
The "value" of a wrongful death claim depends in part on the financial resources of the responsible party
Any family that loses a loved one in a car accident should seek full compensation from the at-fault party. In reality, whether a family can recover this compensation depends in part on the financial resources of the party that caused the premature death of their loved one. For example, if the legal liability rests solely with the "other driver", then in most (but not all) cases, the driver's sum insured will determine how much money the bereaved family can expect to receive.
For this reason, experienced attorneys know how crucial it is to thoroughly investigate a case to identify each party with potential legal liability in a wrongful death case. In many cases, finding a second, third, or fourth liable means doubling, tripling, or quadrupling the funds available to pay for a jury settlement or verdict. Of course, not all cases offer this possibility. However, clients are entitled to expect their attorney to exercise due diligence to determine the full extent of any potential liability.
It is imperative to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney
Families who lose a loved one in a car accident face sudden, unexpected, and emotionally overwhelming stress. They need competent and sophisticated legal advice to help them make informed decisions about when and how to enforce their legal rights to seek compensation for a wrongful death claim. Not all lawyers will. Families should only place themselves in the hands of an attorney with the experience and resources to pursue a wrongful death claim to the extent possible.
Why is it so important to hire a lawyer with a track record and years of practice in wrongful death cases?
Insurance companies may try to cut the family.
After a fatal car accident, insurers for those with possible legal liabilities may contact the deceased's family to offer a "fast-track" settlement. Typically, however, the value of a settlement offered "out of the blue" does not reflect the full amount of money the family will earn in compensation for the tragic loss of life due to a car accident. Families should never accept these offers (which come with onerous legal obligations), at least not without first consulting an experienced auto accident lawyer.
An experienced attorney knows where to look for those responsible.
As we noted earlier, the immense tragedy of an untimely death in a car accident calls for an attorney who will leave no stone unturned in the quest for justice, accountability, and compensation. The more potentially responsible parties in a tragic death, the better chance the family has of recovering damages owed to them.
Only the most experienced negotiators and litigators will do this.
Wrongful death lawsuits resulting from car accidents often involve large damage claims, some running into millions of dollars. With so much money at stake, families must entrust their legal representation to an attorney who knows how to negotiate with powerful insurers as equals and who has the talent to present a convincing case before a Pennsylvania jury.
If you've lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner that lawyer can work on your behalf to claim the compensation you are owed.