Car accidents can have devastating results, and fatal accidents change people’s lives forever. It’s often difficult to know what to do after losing a loved one to an auto accident. It’s important to understand how to proceed in order to receive proper compensation from the responsible party. Working with an experienced fatal car accident lawyer will make the process simpler and less overwhelming. The following guide will explain what steps to take after an accident and how an attorney will assist you.
Fatal Car Accident Statistics
According to PennDOT, the majority of crashes in Pennsylvania during 2017 were thankfully non-fatal. In fact, fatalities decreased from 1,188 in 2016 to 1,137 in 2017. There was also a decrease in total crashes by 1%. Both of these are positive trends for Pennsylvania, but unfortunately, there are still fatal crashes every year that are caused by various factors.
There were 441 fatal crashes in 2017 involving speed-related factors and 160 fatal crashes due to drunk driving. These two factors are the prevailing causes of auto accident fatalities in Pennsylvania. Since human error is a dominant factor in car accident deaths, there is often a negligent party involved that was responsible for the collision. If this is the case, the victim’s family might have the option of filing a wrongful death claim with the help of a fatal car accident lawyer.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Not all fatal auto accidents can be pursued as wrongful death cases. According to Title 42 of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, in order to be able to file a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for the accident, the party claiming compensation must be able to provide evidence of the following criteria.
- The party making the claim must have the right to recover compensation. This often means they are a family member, spouse, or were somehow financially dependent on the victim. In some cases, a specific person may have been named in an agreement prior to the victim’s death. They will need to provide proof of their dependency on the victim as well as measurable damages they’ve incurred due to their loss.
- The claimant must also be able to prove that the actions of the defendant caused the victim’s death. In cases of an auto accident, it must be shown that the victim died of injuries caused by the accident and that the accident was somehow the fault of the defendant’s actions or inactions. The defendant may have taken deliberate action to harm the victim or their negligent driving behaviors caused the accident.
- The claimant also must show the impact of the victim’s death on the family including loss of wages, medical and funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses they have encountered.
- The victim’s behavior leading up to the accident will likely also be examined in order to determine that they did not take actions or inactions that may have contributed to the accident. This could include not wearing a seatbelt, breaking traffic laws, or any other factors that could have made them responsible for the incident.
If these elements are proven, then the criteria has been met. The best way to build your case against a responsible party is to work with a fatal car accident lawyer. They will be able to work on your behalf to prove these components of the incident and provide legal assistance to those unfamiliar with the aspects of wrongful death law.
How to File a Wrongful Death Claim with a Fatal Car Accident Lawyer
In order for your attorney to effectively build a case against the responsible party, you should maintain accurate and detailed records regarding the accident. This will make it easier for your attorney to properly calculate compensation and present your case successfully.
Evidence from the Incident
Evidence from the scene of the incident will play an important role in proving the responsibility of the defendant. This includes:
- A police report that details how the accident occurred
- Photos from all angles of the crash
- Testimony and contact information of witnesses to the incident
- Footage of the crash from CCTV, surveillance cameras, or dashboard cameras
Keep this evidence organized and bring it to your consultation with an attorney. If you are attempting to obtain footage of the incident, you may need their assistance so be sure to mention that.
Save all medical bills and records that were incurred from the accident. Oftentimes a victim will be hospitalized for a significant period of time before passing and those costs can be compensated. The records from medical professionals that detail the victim’s injuries will also serve as crucial evidence in the case and will help determine the amount of proper repayment.
Keep records of your payments towards funeral and burial services. These costs will also be used to calculate the amount of compensation you are owed by the responsible party.
The family of a victim of a fatal car accident will lose the potential wages they would have made and this factors into compensation. Other losses to take note of are the loss of companionship, guidance, insurance, support, and consortium. These are non-economic losses that are also used in wrongful death cases in order to prove the impact the death had on the family. The claimant should make a detailed list of losses that apply to the case in order to provide them to their lawyer. In addition, pain and suffering damages should also be considered such as mental and emotional distress caused by a loved one’s passing.
Hire the Most Trusted Fatal Car Accident Lawyer
A reliable fatal car accident lawyer serves as a crucial resource when fighting for justice. Donaghue & Labrum has extensive experience with car accident cases and a strong track record of success. We work closely with our clients to help them through the difficult process of losing a loved one and do everything in our power to fight for their proper compensation. You don’t have to do this alone — contact Donaghue & Labrum today to set up your first free consultation.