Death on The Highway What Course of Action is Available to Family Members

Some motor vehicle accidents are so severe that a victim has little chance of survival, especially when travelling at high speeds on interstate roads. When this happens, the law does provide ways for family members to receive compensation from the driver at fault or from the driver’s  employer.

Accidents involving death

Because of the dangers inherent in driving, many motor vehicle accidents do result in someone dying. While the person is no longer around to advocate for their own rights, certain family members are allowed by law to file a lawsuit on their behalf called a wrongful death action. This remedy provided by the civil law attempts to put a value on the wages they could have earned and other services to quantify an amount of damages. A verdict or settlement can include costs for hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost wages, and other valuable services that the person provided for their family. These types of cases basically work in the same way as a standard personal injury lawsuit, except for the fact that a family member is standing in the place of the victim.

Wrongful death cases are not related to criminal charges or criminal lawsuits. They are civil cases that can be filed regardless of whether criminal charges are filed or not, or how those cases resolve. Keep in mind that the civil and criminal courts in your area are separate systems.

What are damages?

In civil lawsuits, plaintiffs are most interested in the element of damages. This term is essentially a way of determining an amount of money that compensates the victim for all losses extending from an accident. In minor accidents, this may be a small amount to cover repairs to a car, while in cases that result in serious injuries or death, verdicts and settlements can sometimes result in thousands or millions of dollars worth of damages. Civil lawsuits related to negligence also allow a lawyer to argue for damages related to emotional pain, suffering, and trauma that the victim and their family must endure as the result of an accident.

Projecting future lost wages

In wrongful death lawsuits, the most significant factor for a young victim will be their projected wages and services that they could have earned if they had lived. For example, someone’s yearly salary projected for another thirty years of working until retirement age will usually be a very large amount. It is also important to realize that someone with high earning potential can argue for a greater sum of future losses. This means that factors such as the victim’s education, background, and training will all be relevant.

The total value of a fatal lawsuit

Lawsuits related to fatalities and wrongful death can result in significant sums of money changing hands, but it is not always easy to come up with an estimate right away. Medical evaluations or other forms of evidence and documentation to prove losses are necessary.

Because of this uncertainty in projecting a value, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a family member dies. After you provide some details, they will be able to give you a better estimate of the value of the case. They can also discuss a course of action and strategic matters that will help increase your chances of winning the lawsuit.

Speak with a local lawyer after a deadly accident

If you have been involved in a serious accident in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or know a family member who has recently died in a motor vehicle crash, there is help available from an experienced attorney. Get in touch with the lawyers at Ogborn, Mihm, and Quaintance for more information about the possibility of filing a lawsuit.

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