Wrongful Death in a Car Accident
Driving is a dangerous activity. Whether people realize it or not, getting behind the wheel of a vehicle or riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than flying on an airplane, hopping on a train across the state, or taking a boat ride down the river. In fact, driving is one of the most dangerous things people regularly do.
Because of the inherent danger of driving, it is important to always be safe, to never drink alcohol or take drugs and drive, and to not text and drive. In 2019 alone, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Despite the overwhelming amount of information about careless or unsafe driving, accidents still happen. When someone's actions lead to another person's death, the deceased's loved ones may be entitled to compensation for that wrongful death.
Wrongful death in a car accident can happen for a variety of reasons, such as negligence or recklessness by another motorist, criminal activity, or even because of a manufacturing defect by the automaker. Below you will find key information about wrongful death car accidents, including the common causes of car accidents, your options when filing a claim, and where to go to find a lawyer who can assist you.
What are the Main Causes of Car Accidents?
Car accidents are common. Think about all the times you have been sitting in rush hour traffic listening to a traffic report on the radio where the announcer lists out the number of accidents in a given time period. Common causes of fatal car accidents include:
- Texting and driving (distracted driving)
- Driving under the influence of drugs (including prescription drugs) and/or alcohol (DUI)
- Reckless driving (speeding, racing, passing when it is unsafe, etc.)
- Poor weather conditions
- Driver fatigue
- Street and highway defects
- Car manufacturing defects
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Every state has some form of a wrongful death statute on the books. While all of these laws have similarities, it is important to know the specific laws in your state to verify filing deadlines and other requirements.
Typically, a state's wrongful death statute will require you to show several common elements. Michigan's wrongful death statute is typical of what a grieving family must prove in order to win a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Another driver caused an accident that resulted in the death of your family member or loved one;
- The other driver acted negligently, wrongfully, or was otherwise at fault in causing the accident;
- The deceased family member is survived by a spouse, child, or other dependents or beneficiaries; and
- There are monetary damages as a result of your loved one's death. (Damages can include both monetary and non-monetary damages, in some states).
Who Can File
In order to have standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you typically must be an immediate family member such as a spouse, child, or parent of the deceased. Oftentimes, the personal representative of the estate will be responsible for filing the suit on behalf of the deceased's estate and family members, but not every state has this requirement. For more information about how this process works, be sure to consult an attorney in your state.
Wrongful Death in a Car Accident: Related Resources
- State Civil Statute of Limitations
- Wrongful Death FAQ
- Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the "Discovery" Rule
Get an Attorney's Help With Your Wrongful Death Claim
Losing a loved one because of negligent or distracted driving is devastating. While the law can't bring that person back, it can help ease some of the financial burden that goes along with an untimely death. If you or someone you love is considering filing a wrongful death claim because of a car accident, you'll greatly benefit from the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.