Auto Accident Attorney: Wrongful Death Services

Even though auto accidents have declined in the past decade, they continue to tragically claim lives. If your family has been impacted by a deadly auto accident, you may have the opportunity to seek justice by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

Here are some of the services offered by auto accident attorneys when pursuing wrongful death cases.

Proving Negligence

Wrongful death lawsuits stem from personal injury claims. In the case of an auto accident, the attorney must prove negligence to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit.

Negligence: the most basic standard for filing a wrongful death claim is proving basic negligence. In most states, this involves proving that a victim suffered an injury and ultimately death as a result of someone else's mistakes. For wrongful death cases that involve auto accidents, factors like speeding, unlawful driving maneuvers, and improper vehicle maintenance are the common ways to prove basic negligence. You can help your auto accident attorney expedite this process by sharing all records related to the case. For instance, you can authorize them to access medical, insurance, vehicle, and police records to help them build a case for negligence.

Gross Negligence: in extreme cases, your auto accident attorney might petition for gross negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit. These cases often involve factors like drunk driving, texting while driving, and excessive speeding. If your auto accident attorney is able to build a case for gross negligence, your family will be entitled to seek maximum damages. Additionally, insurance companies involved with the case of gross negligence are often more inclined to settle before the case goes to trial.

Survivor Status

Because wrongful death lawsuits are filed on the behalf of a deceased victim, your auto accident attorney will need to also prove that you are a legal survivor who is entitled to compensation. If you were a direct beneficiary of the victim, this process is relatively straightforward. However, if your relationship to the victim isn't stipulated in the will or on recent financial documents, your auto accident attorney will need to prove that you are a legitimate beneficiary of the victim's estate.

Competing claims: in many wrongful death cases, multiple lawsuits will be filed on behalf of the victim's survivors. This might include spouses, ex-spouses, siblings, children, step-children, cousins, etc. If the victim did not clearly stipulate a primary beneficiary in a will, your auto accident attorney will need to demonstrate that the victim's death impacted you financially. For instance, if you are an ex-spouse and the victim did not remarry or they were ordered to provide alimony, you might be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases where multiple wrongful death lawsuits are filed, your auto accident attorney might reach out to the other attorney(s) in the case to merge claims. It is critical that you do not speak with another attorney involved in the case. Only your auto accident attorney will have your self-interests as their primary goal.

Doling out Damages

Another component of wrongful death lawsuits involves the damages being sought. In many cases, the greater the number of sources for damages, the larger the settlement will be.

Expected Income: the income-earning potential of a victim can't be ignored in a wrongful death lawsuit. In addition to seeking damages for things like annual salary, your auto accident attorney will seek damages for loss of health insurance, retirement savings, and any other income-related losses caused by the victim's death.

Loss of inheritance: another major factor in wrongful death lawsuits can be a loss of inheritance. If the victim would have laid claim to property or assets, their survivors can lay claim to the inheritance the victim was likely to have received in their lifetime.         

To learn more, contact an auto accident attorney.