Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Fatal Automobile Accident

A fatal auto accident may result in a wrongful death lawsuit depending on the facts of the accident. When a car accident is fatal to one or more victims, the families of the victims may be entitled to compensation for wrongful death.

Wrongful Death Claims

In a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney will attempt to prove that the victim was killed as a result of negligence and that survivors are entitled to damages as a result of the defendant's conduct. A wrongful death claim is different from a traditional negligence lawsuit, which is filed by the party who was injured. The survivors in a fatal accident could not claim damages at common law. All states have since passed wrongful death laws and provide compensation to persons who may have suffered the death of a loved one. The law will vary depending on the state in which your case is brought.

Individual state wrongful death statutes are drafted by the government of each state. Still, they mostly follow the same general guidelines. A wrongful death claim generally consists of four elements:

  • The death was caused (partially or completely) by the actions of the defendant;
  • The defendant was negligent or strictly liable for the victim’s death; 
  • There is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or other dependents; and
  • Monetary damages have resulted from the victim’s death.

Damages can include pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost support and other expenses depending on the governing law.

Getting Legal Help

If someone you were close to was killed in an auto accident, you can talk to an accident attorney who can help you hold the party who was at fault responsible. If a wrongful death lawsuit can be established, an attorney will advocate on your behalf and help you through the legal process.

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