What are my legal options after my loved one has died in a car accident?
Thinking about legal options after a loved one has tragically passed away in a car accident is a difficult step to take. A family may be unsure how to emotionally and financially deal with their loss. Further, filing a lawsuit can be even more taxing for surviving family members who are in a state of shock and sadness. However, if your loved one has died as a result of someone’s negligence, the courts have determined that surviving family members deserve monetary compensation for their loss. While an auto insurance policy will cover some of the costs associated with the accident, legal action is a critical step to recover damages that occurred as a result of another individual’s carelessness. It is important for someone who has lost a loved one in a car accident to contact an experienced trial attorney to help them navigate the legal process following such a tragic death of a loved one.
Causes of fatal car accidents
Fatal car accidents may involve reckless driving and other driving behaviors. Some of the most common causes of fatal car accidents include reckless driving, such as driving too fast or speeding, distracted driving, such as texting on a cell phone, driving under the influence of alcohol, medication or recreational drugs, and operating the vehicle in a careless manner, such as failing to obey traffic laws and signs.
Fatal car accidents and Wrongful Death legal claims
In the case of a fatal car accident, the legal claim is filed as a wrongful death lawsuit. The Florida Wrongful Death Act, as contained in Florida Statutes section 768.16, provides a legal basis for pursuing a lawsuit after a loved one has died in a traffic accident. After an accident involving negligence, such as a car accident, the party responsible for the accident may be sued for damages. To prove that the defendant is liable, the family must prove the death was caused by that person’s wrongful act or negligence. Florida law requires that the personal representative, also sometimes called an executor, files the wrongful death claim. This personal representative is acting on behalf of all those who may be beneficiaries of the claim, such as surviving family members. It is important to note that a wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit, distinct from a criminal lawsuit. The lawsuit is filed in order to recover damages solely in terms of financial compensation that the court will order the defendant to pay the deceased survivors. The statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim includes two years from the date of the person’s death.
Damages in Wrongful Death legal claims
As stated above, the courts have determined that surviving family members deserve monetary compensation if their loved one has died as a result of another’s negligence. The judge or jury may award various types of damages depending on the situation. Generally, damages in a wrongful death car accident lawsuit may include loss of income and earning capacity, medical expenses, mental distress, pain and suffering, funeral expenses paid by a surviving family member, damages for lost parental companionship, instruction, and guidance (if surviving family members are children) and loss of consortium.