Legal Tips and Resources
Although the majority of car accidents result in injuries, there are many crashes where injuries are so severe, that the victim does not survive. When a person is killed in a crash that was caused by another party, state laws allow the family and/or the estate of the victim to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit with a catastrophic personal injury attorney Georgia trusts against that responsible party. Some of the damages that survivors can pursue in these cases include the emotional impact the victim’s death has on the family, as well as the financial impact.
Each state sets its own tort laws regarding how personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits and claims are to be processed. Many states have similar rules, but there may be some differences, such as the statute of limitations for how long a victim or their family must file these types of legal claims. A wrongful death attorney can explain what the rules are in the state you live in, as well as the best legal options for your particular case.
In many states, the family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit is determined by how closely related they were to the victim. The typical order includes:
- The victim’s spouse
- The victim’s child
- The victim’s parent or parents if they did not have a spouse or children
- Any person who the victim took care of financially
In other states, a wrongful death claim may only be filed by a representative of the victim’s estate. This could be the individual who the victim named in their will to be the executor, or if there was no will, then the court can appoint someone.
If the estate is successful in their wrongful death claim, either through a settlement or through a jury award, the funds will then become part of the estate and distributed along with the other assets to the heirs of the estate.
When a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in a fatal car crash case, the damages that can be included in this action include the following:
- Any medical expenses incurred trying to save the victim’s life, including ambulance transportation, emergency room treatment, surgeries, and hospitalizations
- Loss of the victim’s income and benefits. This is often calculated up to the age the victim would have retired at
- The pain and suffering the victim endured from the time of the crash until they died
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional anguish and grief the survivors suffered over the victim’s death
- Loss of guidance and support the victim provided his or her loved ones
- Loss of companionship
If there have been criminal charges filed against the at-fault driver, such as in a drunk driving accident, it is important for family members to realize that these proceedings would be totally separate from any civil wrongful death action the family may file. It is not necessary for the criminal case to be resolved before filing a lawsuit. In fact, doing so could cause the statute of limitation to expire.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into wrongful death lawsuits.