A family member can sue for wrongful death after a car accident. In wrongful death lawsuits, the liable party is the person who was responsible for your loved one’s passing. If the lawsuit is successful, one or more parties may pay the surviving family member compensation to help address the many losses resulting from a wrongful death.
A family member may choose to hire a legal team for their case. There may be several benefits to hiring a lawyer for a lawsuit that involves a wrongful death in Atlanta.
How to Know When a Death Is Wrongful
The Legal Information Institute (LII) explains that a wrongful death is one that stems from another person’s intended or unintended negligence. Negligence involves a wrongful, careless, or reckless action. It may even be criminal in nature.
Even with this definition in mind, you may not be certain whether your loved one’s passing qualifies for a wrongful death claim. Making the call to a wrongful death attorney may help you know for certain whether you have a reason to bring a wrongful death claim.
The circumstances of a car accident may often produce a wrongful death. When a car accident happens, it may generally be because a driver acted in a way that caused the accident. Whatever a driver or another party did to cause your loved one’s death could be deemed wrongful.
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Driver Actions That May Be Wrongful
As a family member, you may sue a driver for wrongful death after a car accident. A driver or another entity may be the cause of your loved one’s fatal car accident. Accordingly, your wrongful death lawyer may name the at-fault driver as a defendant in your wrongful death claim.
Your attorney may make the case that the other driver’s actions caused the accident. The driver’s dangerous behaviors may have included:
- Being under the influence of alcohol (drunk driving)
- Being under the influence of drugs
- Driving faster than the speed limit
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Changing into an occupied lane
- Making an illegal turn
- Disregarding traffic signals
- Driving too close to another vehicle
- Driving an unsafe vehicle
A vehicle defect may have caused your loved one’s accident. Many problems can affect vehicle safety, from engine problems to defective brakes and other issues. However, vehicle-related issues that contributed to your loved one’s fatal accident could be the fault of a driver.
A driver may have put your loved one at risk by:
- Driving on tires that were too worn
- Driving on tires that were dangerously overinflated or under-inflated
- Not properly securing items to the outside of their vehicle
- Driving a vehicle with any defect that the driver knew about or should have known about
Through a wrongful death lawsuit, your lawyer will aim to hold the liable driver or another liable party responsible.
Your Family May Deserve Compensation for Your Loss
The acts that led to your loved one’s death may not necessarily be criminal, but you may be able to seek justice for your loss by having a lawyer pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
A lawyer will do what is required to complete your lawsuit. This will include finding out how your family has suffered because of your loss and establishing how that suffering translates into a monetary value. Typically, compensation for damages falls into two categories: Economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages tend to be financial damages that have a concrete dollar amount attached to them. Non-economic damages tend to be emotional damages that are more subjective. Both types of damages deserve fair compensation and an experienced attorney can help you get what you deserve.
The following are some of the recoverable damages you may be able to seek financial compensation for:
Your family may have suffered numerous economic costs related to your loved one’s passing. These costs could include:
- Funeral-related costs including burial or cremation
- Medical costs including medical bills resulting from time spent in the emergency room and the hospital before your loved one passed
- The loss of your loved one’s income, now and into the future
- Damage to your vehicle or replacement costs if the vehicle was totaled
While funeral and medical expenses may be fixed, one-time expenses, the long-term loss of a loved one’s income may be more difficult to quantify. Nonetheless, your lawyer will make the calculations necessary to account for lost future income.
Loss of Consortium
Certain family members of the deceased may be entitled to compensation for a group of losses known as loss of consortium. It may generally apply to the spouse of the deceased, and it is meant to cover the loss of affection and other comforts that the deceased provided. The loss of parental guidance for the children of your loved one may be a closely-related type of loss.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering could be the greatest loss in any wrongful death case. Losing a loved one in a car accident can leave you traumatized, and the pain may be lasting. A lawyer will seek compensation that represents the pain and suffering that you and your loved ones have experienced.
Emotional distress of this kind can also have concrete dollar amounts in the form of bills for long-term therapy and medication to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Punitive damages refer to damages levied by the court in instances where the actions of the at-fault party are particularly reckless or intentionally dangerous. These damages are designed to punish the negligent party as opposed to compensate the losses of the family of a wrongful death victim.
The hope is that by punishing such aberrant behavior, it will deter such actions in the future. This is not something the court does lightly or frequently, however.
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A loved one’s passing is a tragic loss. While you cope, a lawyer can pursue any compensatory damages that you and your family may be entitled to seek through a wrongful death lawsuit. Call Bader Scott Injury Lawyers today to complete a free consultation.