What is Wrongful Death? » Fatal Car Accidents and Wrongful Death
What’s a wrongful death claim worth?
If your loved one died as the result of another person's negligence consult with an attorney to see if you have a claim.
A wrongful death attorney can help you determine if you should file a wrongful death lawsuit and the value of your loved one’s wrongful death case.
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Losing a loved one in a car crash is devastating. As if the grieving process isn't hard enough, you have to deal with securing the financial future of your family. It is critical that you choose a lawyer who has the experience you need to take care of everything related to your loss, so you can take care of yourself. This includes recovering compensation for medical expenses, lost wages that would have been earned by your loved one, pain and suffering, and more.
If your family member died in a car accident, it's important that you make informed decisions that best serve you and your family. You need to understand the steps you must consider to preserve your rights related to the wrongful death of your loved one….as soon as possible after the accident.
Statute of Limitations
While every state has different laws surrounding a wrongful death claim due to an accident, all states have a specific time limit within which you must file your claim for your loved one’s wrongful death. From a fatal car accident. This is called the Statute of Limitations. In Pennsylvania, adults have only two years to properly file a lawsuit against any party they intend to hold financially responsible for an injury they sustained in a car accident, or they shall forever waive their right to obtain a recovery against any such party. While there are exceptions to this rule, and you should consult a lawyer even (if this time has passed). Do not delay taking steps to protect your rights and those of your family.
Because this timeframe to file a claim for wrongful death is limited, it's very important to seek out a qualified wrongful death attorney to file your claim as soon as possible after the accident. This is necessary for a few reasons.
Important Considerations to Protecting the Rights of a Fatal Car Accident Victim's Family
Secure records. It's important that all records regarding the accident be secured by you or your attorney very soon after the accident. This will ensure that evidence won't be lost, and important witness statements can be preserved.
Police Investigation. The police can wrongly blame a decedent for an accident. Because they can no longer speak for themselves, the loved ones they leave are often at a disadvantage. Your lawyer must have experience reconstructing an accident so the decedent’s story can be re-told. This is critical since the police are often wrong!
Even if your loved one was blamed for an accident, you should still hire an experienced attorney to conduct their own investigation. Make sure that your lawyer will not charge you if they cannot prove that the accident was the fault of another and recover money for you. Your lawyer should advance all of the expense of investigating your loved one’s accident. These costs should only be reimbursed if your lawyer goes forward with representing the estate of your loved one and recovers money for you and your family.
Insurance Company Response. Because fatality claims are serious and can result in the recovery of a very substantial amount of money, insurance companies will try to protect themselves first and deny their responsibility for the accident.
Your lawyer must be well versed in how to deal with aggressive insurance companies
Accident Reconstruction. In a wrongful death claim involving a fatal car accident, there are many cases where your lawyer should hire an accident reconstruction expert to review all the documentation, and come up with their own independent opinion as to how the accident occurred. These experts can be very expensive, especially when they are some of the most respected experts in their field.
If your lawyer cannot prove through the experts they hire that the accident was the fault of another and recover money for you, they should be responsible for all of the expenses incurred in investigating your loved one’s accident.
Witness Statements. As time passes, memories can fade, and some of the witnesses to the accident may not remember all the details clearly or accurately. It's vital that your attorney have the ability to interview these witnesses shortly after the accident while their memories are fresh, and to preserve their eyewitness accounts to be used in trial, should your case not settle out of court.
Be sure your lawyer works with top-notch investigators to find every witness who can help them figure out what really happened.
Elements of a Successful Wrongful Death Claim Due to an Auto Accident
In order to be successful, a wrongful death claim due to a fatal car accident needs to have two main features.
Caused by Someone Else. In order for a family to recover money in a wrongful death claim, the accident would have had to be caused by someone other than your loved one who died in the accident. This could be the driver of another vehicle, the auto maker, or the driver of the car your loved one was riding in. In other words, someone other than the deceased had to have acted in a negligent manner to have caused the accident.
Sufficient Insurance. Sad to say, but many wrongful death claims due to a fatal car accident fail because the driver who was at fault had inadequate insurance, or not enough personal assets to fully compensate the other party. Your attorney must know where to look for any available insurance or other assets from which to recover the full value of your wrongful death claim.
Even if the driver of another vehicle was at fault but was uninsured, there are quite a few other parties your lawyer should consider in order to recover the compensation that your family is entitled to. Some examples are:
- Under or Uninsured Insurance: Your loved one may have insurance that protects them or their loved ones from being injured or killed by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- Automobile Manufacturer: If the car your family member died in failed to adequately protect them, your family can recover compensation from the manufacturer of that automobile.
- DramshopInsurance: If your family member was killed by a drunk driver, you may be able to recover money from the bar or home where they were last served alcohol.
Talk with an PA Accident Lawyer
When your family member dies because of a fatal car accident, having the right attorney can make all the difference in the financial future and well-being of you and your family. While this money will do nothing to bring back your family member, it will take some of the burden off of you in the future.
Sometimes, a small amount of money is accepted and doing so releases other parties from whom far more money could be recovered. Hire the right lawyer so this doesn't happen to you. Your loved one would have wanted to know that you are being taken care of and that you are fully compensated by all of those responsible for their death and your tragic loss.
Complete the short form on the right side of this page if you would like SurvivingWrongfulDeath.com to promptly connect you with Ostroff Injury Law Pennsylvania Accident law firm, a that is well respected for it’s experience and results in handling automobile accident fatality cases across Pennsylvania.