Thinking of the possibility of dying from a car accident appears morbid. Unfortunately, auto accidents do occur, and some of them cause deaths. It is, therefore, not misplaced if you want to know what happens if you or any loved one dies in a car accident.
Dealing with the death of a loved one after an accident is an emotional rollercoaster. It brings a sense of deep loss, grief, anger, sadness, and sometimes guilt. On top of all these emotions are the added responsibilities of juggling burial arrangements, medical bills, personal lives, etc.
Therefore, it is important to have an experienced wrongful death attorney walk you through the legalities. Not only will having an attorney reduce your stress levels, but it also gives you or your loved one less thing to think about.
Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
Approximately 1.35 million persons die annually from auto accidents and their complications. That is to say, 3,700 people die from auto accidents daily on average.
Some auto accidents are just that, accidents. Other times they are a result of other factors. Auto accidents can range from mild to severe. They result in injuries ranging from mere bruises, broken bones to severe injuries like traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries.
Unfortunately, not all accidents stop at just injuries. Some are so severe that they result in deaths. Factors that cause such fatal accidents include:
- Road rage
- Driving while intoxicated
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Lack of care in poor weather conditions
- Disobeying traffic laws
- Road maintenance and poor car design
- Poor vehicle maintenance
Despite the list above, the truth is, auto accidents are unpredictable. Something as common as rear-end collision can lead to complicated head trauma or spinal cord injury. Both of which can get further complicated and result in death.
Criminal Charges After a Car Accident
After an accident, what is on top of everyone’s mind is why? What led to the accident? Could the accident have been prevented? These questions are not only reasonable but very important as well.
As mentioned earlier, accidents can sometimes be accidents indeed. That is, they are not intentional. Other times, they are a direct result of negligence or reckless behavior. If caused by either of these two, the driver may face criminal charges.
Situations that lead to criminal charges include:
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
Irrespective of the outcome of a criminal investigation, it does not affect your right to make a civil claim. Neither does the result of the investigation prove or decrease the value of your case.
Your Right To File a Wrongful Death Suit
No amount of money equals a loved one’s life or can bring a loved one back to life. However, filing a wrongful death suit is not trying to get the equivalent of a loved one in any dollar amount. Rather, it is a way of alleviating the burden of outstanding medical bills, funeral costs, and an uncertain financial future. Especially if the deceased was the breadwinner.
A wrongful death suit can lift the financial burden off the victim’s family. Under Ohio law, only the victim’s direct family may seek damages via a wrongful death suit or survivor’s claim.
Direct family refers to:
- Surviving spouse
- Victim’s minor or adult children, including adopted children
- Victim’s parents
Siblings and grandparents are not allowed to file a lawsuit. They can only do so if there’s evidence they suffered a compensable loss. Should you or your loved one decide to file for wrongful death after an auto accident, it means you’d be forfeiting survivor’s benefits.
Wrongful death claims put the financial and emotional loss of the victim’s family into consideration. On the other hand, a survivor’s claim looks at any claims the victim may have or had, had they survived.
Damages in a wrongful death suit might include:
- Loss of service
- Lost wages
- Loss of support
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
- Funeral and burial costs
Survivor Benefits After a Fatal Car Accident
Survivor benefits claim considers the victim’s rights from the date of the accident to the time of death only. Damages in a survivor claim include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
Know Your Rights and Demand Justice!
Death is the ultimate loss. Losing a loved one in a car accident is painful, especially because most accidents are preventable, and death from accidents is usually sudden. Deciding whether to file for wrongful death or survivor’s benefit can be complicated and overwhelming. To get the maximum compensation you deserve, contact our auto accident attorneys.