Advances in car safety technology have led to fewer accidents and fewer deaths on the road. However, the unfortunate truth remains that a colleague, friend or loved one could be killed in the blink of an eye because of the negligence of another driver. What can an attorney do to hold the driver who caused the crash accountable and help those who knew the deceased get closure?
Do You Have Standing to Pursue the Case?
The first step that an attorney will take is to determine whether or not you have standing to pursue the case. If you do, legal counsel can begin to review your case and making recommendations as to how you should proceed. If you don’t have standing, your attorney may be able to determine who does so that party can file a lawsuit or seek damages through a settlement.
How Much Time Has Elapsed Since the Accident?
In most accident cases, there is a statute of limitations that begins on the date of the accident. Typically, you have two years to pursue compensation or file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person. Your attorney will be able to tell you more about whether a statute of limitations applies in your case and how long you may have to take action. Ideally, you will see an attorney right away to ensure that your rights are preserved.
An Attorney Could Help the Victim’s Family Obtain Compensation
If an individual is killed in a car crash, his or her family may have standing to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In such a lawsuit, it may be possible to collect compensation for lost future earnings of the deceased person as well as compensation for medical bills and final expenses.
It may also be possible to receive a financial award to help any dependents that the victim may have had to maintain their lifestyle. For example, money may be included in a settlement to help a child remain in his or her home or to pay for that child’s future educational costs. If the victim had special needs children, money may be set aside to pay for medical care or other costs related to those needs.
Compensation May Be Available Even If the Other Driver Dies
It is possible that the person who caused the fatal accident also perishes in the wreck. In the event that this happens, that driver’s estate is still responsible for paying compensation to other victims in the case. An attorney may be able to take steps to ensure that other beneficiaries or interested parties do not get their inheritance before your legal claim on behalf of a dead family member is resolved.
In addition to placing a claim on the other driver’s estate, it may also be possible to receive compensation from his or her insurance company. Even if a driver dies in a crash, his or her insurance policy would still pay out damages assuming that it was valid at the time that the wreck took place.
Multiple Parties May Be Liable for Damages
Multiple parties may be liable in a wrongful death case involving a car accident. For instance, faulty brakes may not have allowed that driver to stop in time. If an airbag fails to deploy in time, it could lead to a person being killed even if the collision itself was relatively minor.
In the event that the other driver was driving a company vehicle when the accident occurred, the employer could also be liable for damages. Finally, if the road where the accident occurred wasn’t plowed after a snowstorm or was in poor condition for any reason, the government agency responsible for maintaining that road could be liable.
An Attorney Understands How to Prove Negligence in a Case
For a party to be held financially liable in a wrongful death suit, that party must have acted in a negligent manner in causing the death to occur. This means that the responsible party took actions that he or she knew or should have known would cause an accident.
There are multiple ways to prove this, and an attorney will gather evidence that can be used as leverage in a settlement or used to obtain a jury award after a trial. For instance, it may be possible to use cell phone records to show that a driver was on his or her cell phone at the time of a crash or just before the crash took place.
It may also be possible to use toxicology reports to determine that a driver had alcohol or other drugs in his or her system at the time of the accident. If a driver is distracted for any reason when the accident took place, that is also considered to be negligent.
Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver is doing anything that takes his or her focus off of the road. Therefore, someone could be distracted just by thinking about work or looking at the radio to change the station. It is important to note that someone doesn’t have to intend to hurt another person or intentionally take an action that hurt another person to be negligent.
If a family member or close friend has passed away after a car accident, you may want to seek out the advice of an experienced attorney. He or she can explain more about what your rights may be and how you can help get justice on behalf of the deceased. A consultation may be free, and any legal fees or related costs may be included in your final settlement or jury award.