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What Happens When Someone Dies in a Crash?

When someone you love dies in a collision, you need someone who will fight for your family

Get justice after a loved one dies in a fatal crash

It is the call every family member dreads. While we all hope that it will never be us or our loved ones, 6 million Americans crash every year. 3 million suffer serious injuries from their accidents. Each day, 90 people die in collisions on America’s streets, roads, and highways. In the wake of a fatal crash, the victim’s family members must pick up the pieces while simultaneously grieving the person they lost. However, most people do not know what to do. As a result, the car accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys explain what happens when someone you love dies in a car crash.

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Understanding your options after someone you love dies in a crash

When a beloved family member is killed in a car accident, there is a lot to do. In many instances, the victim does not die right away. Rather, they suffer serious injuries from the accident, but remain alive. In such cases, they will likely be transported to the nearest hospital for emergency medical treatment. Their next of kin may need to make difficult and time-sensitive decisions about a course of treatment. Once someone does pass away from their crash injuries, there is a lot to do. In addition to tasks such as making funeral arrangements and settling an estate, you will need to decide about whether or not to pursue legal action.

What kind of lawsuit can you file when a family member dies in an auto collision?

When a loved one is killed in a car or truck crash, you may have the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In essence, this type of claim states that someone else’s wrongful actions caused your family member to die. The other person’s actions may be “wrongful” in that they were “negligent” or “intentional.” In this context, these are both legal words. Negligent means that the other driver was not taking reasonable precautions that most people would. Although intentional wrongful death lawsuits are rare in car, truck, and SUV crash cases, they are still possible. Intentional means that the other person acted on purpose.

After someone dies in a crash, who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Not everyone has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit after someone dies in a fatal accident. Each state has its own laws, which dictate who can file a claim to recover for losses. Once a person dies, any legal action they file or are involved in is said to be on behalf of their “estate.” In Pennsylvania, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must file the wrongful death claim on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate. The personal representative is the executor or administrator of the will. However, if the personal representative does not file a lawsuit within 6 months of the date of death, any beneficiaries may file. Importantly, every beneficiary does not need to take this step. A single beneficiary may file a claim on behalf of all of the others.

How long do you have to file a wrongful death claim after a loved one dies in a car accident?

Every state sets time limits for filing lawsuits or bringing criminal charges. These limits are called “statutes of limitations” and they last different lengths of time depending on the type of claim or crime. For wrongful death lawsuits, the statute of limitations is 2 years and it begins on the day the accident victim died. If the victim is killed instantly in the crash, the date of death will be the same as the date of the collision. However, in many instances, the victim dies from his or her injuries a few days, weeks, or months later. In such cases, the statute of limitations starts on that later date.

In short, the personal representative has 6 months from the date of death to file the wrongful death lawsuit. If the personal representative does not file, then any beneficiary of the estate may file a claim until the 2-year anniversary of the death passes.

How do you prove a wrongful death lawsuit based on negligence?

Although each state has its own wrongful death laws, the basic requirements for proving negligence for your car crash claim are the same.


The first element you will have to prove is duty. This means you will have to show that the driver you are suing was obligated to show a certain kind of care and take particular precautions in order to keep other roadside passengers safe.


Secondly, you will have to show that the defendant breached his or her duty. In other words, you will have to show a violation.


Next, you’ll have to show that the defendant’s breach of duty caused your loved one’s death or the injuries that ultimately and predictably led to death.


Finally, you must show damages. Damages are the tangible and intangible losses that resulted.

Let the nation’s best crash lawyers win big for your family

If someone you loved died in a car accident, the #1 personal injury and accident lawyers are standing by to help. Who you choose to represent you makes a difference. Learn more about the millions we win for accident victims and their families, what our clients say about us, and how much we can win for you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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Posted in Car Accidents.

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