A fatal car accident completely changes the trajectory of the lives of a victim’s loved ones. They are unpreventable and sudden, and therefore it is hard to even make a plan for what you should do if a loved one dies in an accident. A part of coping with the loss can be to seek out legal action against the other driver. This is a valid response to such an accident, and it is important to know the process of getting your loved one justice.
If you lost a loved one because of the carelessness of another driver, understand that Munley Law is here to help you through this difficult time. We will go after all those involved in your loved one’s death and will make sure both you and your family are compensated for any damages caused by the fatal accident. To start a wrongful death claim for your loved one’s car accident, contact our fatal car accident lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.
How Often Do Fatal Car Accidents Occur?
Fatal auto accidents have been increasing heavily in the last few years. According to The National Safety Council (NSC), the estimated amount of motor vehicle-related deaths in America in 2021 is 46,020, a 9% increase from 2020 and an 18% increase from 2019. In Pennsylvania alone, there were an estimated 1,121 motor-vehicle-related deaths in 2021, a 7% increase from 2020 and a 13% increase from 2021.
It’s difficult to pinpoint one exact reason why car crashes occur, and why there are more fatal accidents each year because every accident is different. But there are some common causes of fatal car accidents:
- Aggressive driving: Some believe that the Covid-19 pandemic created more erratic, angry drivers, which led to more accidents. Being quarantined for so long and fear of the unknown has trickled down into our driving behaviors, such as speeding and road rage.
- Human error: These include the typical causes of car crashes such as texting while driving, drunk driving, fatigued driving, and not wearing a seatbelt.
- Freak accidents: Not all car accidents are caused by drivers. Car malfunctions, poorly designed roadways, and bad weather conditions could also cause these accidents as well.
What is a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death lawsuit occurs when a personal representative from the deceased person’s family files a personal injury claim after a loved one is killed due to negligence or misconduct of another party. Examples of the most common wrongful death claims are medical malpractice, accidents at work, and motor vehicle accidents. When an accident victim dies in a car crash, the family members will file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for the damages involved in the fatal accident.
A car accident can be considered a wrongful death when there was negligence from either the driver or other parties. For example, if a person was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and had killed someone in a car accident, they were neglecting their responsibility to drive diligently. Because the driver had neglected their duty to protect other people from harm, the family members can sue the responsible party.
It’s important to note that according to Pennsylvania Statutes Title 42 PA.CSA Vehicles § 8301, a wrongful death suit can be filed to recover damages as long as the individual did not collect any of the money for the accident while they were still alive.
However, there are other factors that can contribute to a wrongful death that is not fully on the other driver, such as signs put in areas that make them hard to see, roadways that are not taken care of, or there was a defect in the car the accident victim had been driving.
It is important to remember that a wrongful death lawsuit is completely separate from a criminal case. Using the drunk driving example from earlier, not only can the driver face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter in the death of your loved one, you can still file a civil suit to collect damages.
Who is Able to Sue After a Fatal Auto Accident?
In Pennsylvania, a personal representative of the victim’s estate is selected to file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the family. If the representatives do not file the lawsuit within six months after the death, then the beneficiaries can file the claim.
Pennsylvania Statutes Title 42 PA.CSA Vehicles § 8301 defines the legal beneficiaries who can file a claim are the parents, the children, or the spouse of the deceased person.
What Damages Can a Family Recover?
There are two types of compensation a family could receive after losing a loved one in a fatal accident: Economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to any monetary loss the family suffered as a result of the car accident. This includes but is not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Past and future loss of the victim’s income
- Property damage
- Funeral and burial costs
A family can also sue for non-economic damages, which refers to compensation that has no monetary value. These include:
- The loved one’s pain and suffering before death
- The emotional suffering that comes with the loss of the loved one
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
What Should Family Members Do Immediately After a Fatal Accident?
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you may want to take some time to grieve. But unfortunately, time is of the essence in car accident cases. The longer you wait to start an accident claim, the more difficult it can be to recover from your damages.
The first step is to gather all the information you can get about the accident. This includes obtaining the police report, gathering photographs of the accident, and getting witness contact information. You will also want to gather the medical records and keep any receipts that are related to the car accident.
Your next step is to contact a fatal car accident lawyer at Munley Law. With this information, we will begin to build a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties and start the negotiation process with the insurance company.
While you and your family begin the recovery process, our wrongful death attorneys will work hard to make sure you get the compensation you and your family deserve following such a devastating accident.
Contact a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer at Munley Law Today
The loss faced after a fatal car accident is unimaginable, and should not have to be faced alone. Munley Law has been helping families recover from car accidents for over 60 years. Our team of hardworking attorneys will fight to make sure your loved one’s accident is taken care of. You are in good hands at Munley Law. If your loved one was killed in a car accident, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We are here to help.