Auto accidents are perhaps the most common type of personal injury claim. Every day on American highways, there are thousands of automobile accidents that occur, and unfortunately, fatalities with these accidents are very common. In 2017, there were 40,327 people who lost their lives during a collision. While many of these fatalities occur with no other parties involved, many of them can be blamed on the negligence of someone else. If an auto accident claim is filed and then that individual dies, what was an auto accident lawsuit can quickly turn into a wrongful death case.
The auto accident claim can still progress beyond the death of the claimant.
Many people assume that if someone has filed a lawsuit and then that person dies, legal action must halt there. However, that is simply not the case in most states. The case will just change into something else. With the help of an auto accident attorney, the family of the deceased can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the life lost. These cases can get a bit more complicated, so it is critical that you are working with an attorney who is familiar with wrongful death claims.
Specific negligence must be present in a wrongful death claim.
Negligence is almost always a part of tort lawsuits, but with auto accidents, the lines that determine negligence can be a bit more blurred. In order for a claim to be converted into a wrongful death claim, there must be some specified level of negligence. For instance, if the accident was caused by another driver who was texting while operating the vehicle, this would be clear and obvious negligence on behalf of the other driver. If something less defined caused the accident, it can make a wrongful death claim much more difficult to achieve.
Damages can look different in a wrongful death claim.
One of the biggest changes you will see between an auto accident claim and a wrongful death claim is what the damages look like. You may be able to recoup costs for medical bills being filed against the deceased estate, but you will also not be seeking any kind of pain and suffering for the victim. What you may be able to seek, however, could be things like money to cover the costs of the funeral, money to cover the loss of care, and money to compensate for the loss of companionship or guardianship for a child.
To learn more, contact an auto accident attorney in your area.