More than 32,000 people are killed in accidents that involve cars, motorcycles, and trucks every year. The two major contributors to a car accident fatality is driving while intoxicated and speeding, but distracted driving and falling asleep at the wheel are other causes of death. When a fatality takes place in a vehicle accident, the family may file a wrongful death suit.
Who was “at fault” is a consideration in any legal case as it can make a difference in what the insurance companies will payout for the damages and injuries. Liability involves more than just who was at fault, but it is usually the first thing that most accident investigations attempt to determine.
What About Wrongful Death?
The police will likely investigate the vehicle accident, particularly with a fatality involved. Out of the investigation and interviews, they may determine who or what is at fault for the fatal accident. This concept of “fault” also comes up in discussions of wrongful death, which is a legal action against another person or party, who is liable for the person’s death, by the person’s family, estate, or “real parties in interest”.
The “real parties in interest” may vary by state, but could include spouses, children, parents (if unmarried), life partners, or other persons who claim to have suffered financially from the death. For example, a business partner may have a stake in a wrongful suit. In wrongful death accidents, the “real parties in interest” may file for compensation from the victim’s insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company, depending on the level of coverage. They may also file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver for compensation beyond what the insurance company would or could cover.
Fault vs. No-Fault State?
Not all states have the same laws and regulations in place regarding traffic accidents and liability. Fault insurance means that the person responsible for the accident typically covers the cost of property damage and injury, including medical treatments. While fault insurance is a straightforward concept, one person in his or her vehicle may not be the only contributing factor to a vehicle accident. Both participants may bear partial responsibility.
In a No-Fault state, each person is responsible for his or her own injuries. Non-Fault streamlines the process and reduces overall insurance costs while speeding up the process and cutting down on the fraud element. Some critics claim that Non-Fault also increases the number of accidents, but contributing factors like drunk driving, speeding, the age and experience of the driver, and road hazards can all contribute. The time of year (June through September) and the time of day (Saturdays from midnight to 3am) are associated with the greatest number of fatalities.
Even with the No-Fault and Fault scenarios, you still have options for “Choice No-Fault,” where a driver can select the No-Fault or “regular” insurance options. Insurance companies may also offer additional add-on options, which cover accidents and injuries regardless of fault and without the requirement of lawsuits or legal intervention.
Why Consider a Wrongful Death Suit?
A wrongful death suit is really for those surviving family members who are left behind because of the negligence of a person or entity. Surviving family members face the mounting costs for the medical bills and funeral, but you will experience a loss of income and other financial loss beyond the cost of the accident. Compensatory damages can also include damages like pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
While not strictly economically based, the loss of your loved one makes a difference in your life in so many ways. A wrongful death lawsuit is an attempt to recoup some of the loss in the only way it can. The side effects of a wrongful death lawsuit often relate to financial stability, but they also connect with a sense of justice. It may just get you one step closer to closure.
What’s the Next Step in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you’ve experienced a loss related to a fatal vehicle accident, Stephen Rife LLP can be your wrongful death lawyer. When you go in for your free consultation, the personal injury attorneys will listen to your story and offer the guidance and insight you need. They’ll also let you know all the details of what you can expect from the process.
Based on that case review, you should be able to decide what to do next. They’ll also let you know the timeline and what you should do to act within the time limit. A wrongful death lawsuit does not bring back your loved one, but it may just help you with the healing process. Find out how to take the next step.