If your parents were killed in a car accident, and someone else was at fault, damages may be sought in a wrongful death suit. Survivors may seek compensation for lost income over the life of the decedent, lost benefits, pain and suffering, companionship, and medical and funeral expenses. The wrongful death suit may be against a person, company, government agency or employee. Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers has represented clients in wrongful death cases for over 45 years.
What’s In This Guide
- What is Wrongful Death?
- Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
- Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
- What Damages are Possible in a Wrongful Death Suit?
- Is There a Deadline to File Suit?
- Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case where negligence or a wrongful act of one party results in the death of another person. The action could be negligent, reckless, or deliberate. Every state in this country has laws that allow for wrongful death claims to be filed.
Wrongful death claims include many types of fatal accidents, going beyond simple car accidents. Also included in wrongful death suit are things such as medical malpractice, personal injury resulting in death, and intentional criminal activity that has resulted in death. Persons and private and governmental entities can also be named in a wrongful death suit if they were negligent or intentional, and their action or lack of action resulted in death.
A wrongful death suit must be filed by a representative of the survivors who suffer damage from the death of their loved one. This is normally the executor of the decedent’s estate. In every state, immediate family members are eligible to file suit for damages in a wrongful death case. This would include parents, spouses, and children, Some states allow for distant family members (siblings and grandparents), and persons who will suffer financially with the decedent’s loss of income even if unrelated.
If the decedents have a will, the court may appoint an executor to take care of administering the estate. They, then, would also assume the responsibility of bringing suit for wrongful death for the benefit of the survivors of the decedents. If your parents were killed in an automobile accident, you or your personal representative would initiate the claim. In Kentucky and Tennessee, a personal representative or executor is required to file.
In the case of the death of your parents as a result of a car accident, it is essential to prove fault before a case can be brought to court. Your suit must prove that the person who caused the accident behaved negligently or with malice in order to cause the death of your parents. The at-fault driver, must be shown to be responsible through eyewitness accounts, police reports, or other information gathered during a thorough investigation. Some examples of driver negligence are:
- Intoxication-driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Reckless driving- disobeying traffic laws or using excessive speed
- Distracted driving- texting, using the phone, or any other activity done while driving that distracted the driver’s attention.
- Driving with a suspended, revoked, or no license. Though this may not point to an actual cause of the accident, it does show that there have been violations in the past to warrant the suspension.
Any motorist behind the wheel of any car has a responsibility to be attentive and respectful of other drivers on the road. If they disobey laws or operate their vehicle unsafely, they will be held liable for the consequences of their actions.
If the accident that killed your parents was the result of unsafe conditions, malfunctioning equipment, or incomplete traffic communications, other persons or agencies may also be liable. For example, if there is road damage that was not reported, repaired, or taken out of service that caused the accident, the agency responsible for marking or repairing the damage may be at fault. If warning lights were inoperable, a vital system on the car malfunctioned, or barricades were not used as needed, additional agencies or companies may be held accountable.
When seeking damages in a wrongful death case, you will need to quantify the damages. Your attorney can help you with a complete and detailed list. Include the following:
- Medical and Hospital Bills.
- The cost of emergency transportation, such as life flight or ambulance charges.
- Medical bills that are billed separately from the hospital bills, such as bills from specialists, or operating room costs.
- Some prescriptions and supplies are not included in the bill for hospitalization.
- Funeral Costs
- Funeral costs, including burial costs must be itemized and included.
- Loss of Income
- Future loss of income the decedent would have earned in his/her expected life span. This can be wages, disability income, social security, and lost benefits.
- Mental and Emotional Pain
- Pain and suffering that your parents endured before passing.
- Loss of companionship and love from losing your parents.
- Loss of protection and guidance you would have received had they lived.
Every state is different, but most, including Tennessee, allow one year from the date of death to file. In Kentucky, you have one year from the date that the personal representative is appointed, or two years from the date of your parent’s death if the representative is appointed more than one year after the date of death in a car accident. These statutes of limitation are pretty much set in stone, so a late filing will probably not be honored.
Filing a wrongful death suit after the death of your parents is difficult. You have questions. You are grieving. But you should expect to be treated fairly and respectfully after your loss. Every state in our country allows for filing wrongful death lawsuits after the death of your loved ones due to the negligence or intentional disregard of an at-fault driver. But eac
h of those laws is different. As children of the deceased, you are able to seek damages, but the laws in filing differ from state to state.
Calculating damages can be complicated. Some are based on estimations of loss, such as income or companionship. It is difficult to put a number on the loss of love and companionship from your parents. A time frame, or statute of limitation, is placed on filing. Plus you are trying to pick up the pieces of your life the best way that you can.
Losing your parents in an automobile accident is devastating. When someone else is responsible for the death of your parents, you deserve to be compensated fairly and quickly for your loss. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we have 45 years of experience representing families in wrongful death suits. We know how to investigate the accident, how to calculate the damages, and will file within the deadline for your case. Give us a call today to see how we can help you.