A wrongful death claim can be brought against a defendant whose negligence, recklessness, or intentional act caused or contributed to someone’s death. Wrongful deaths can be caused by a number of things, including car wrecks.
Elements of Wrongful Death Claim
If the victim had a will, a personal representative may have been named who can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of the victim’s estate. Otherwise, typically a close family member — a spouse, parent(s) who lost a minor child, or minor child who lost a parent(s) — can initiate an action. Laws concerning other relatives/scenarios vary from state to state.
The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty of care toward the victim (e.g., a motorist must drive responsibly and follow the rules of the road) … and breached it; demonstrate how the defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to the victim’s death; and detail the economic damages resulting from the defendant’s negligence, a sometimes complex process.
Since a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, the plaintiff must show that it’s more likely than not that the defendant was liable for the wrongful death (“preponderance of evidence”), which is a lower threshold than a criminal trial’s “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A plaintiff may seek compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of future earnings, financial support, and loss of care, comfort, and consortium. In addition to wrongful death damages, a plaintiff might be able to pursue a “survival action” — personal injury damages for the deceased’s conscious pain and suffering (physical and emotional) for the time between their injury and their passing.
If you lose a close family member due to negligent conduct, contact an experienced wrongful death attorney to fight for you.
How a Personal Injury Vehicle Accident Attorney Can Help
Although you do not need an attorney to file an insurance claim, it can be helpful to have an attorney do some of the legwork. If you are injured, you should focus on trying to heal. An attorney can help with the following:
- Communicating with the other driver’s insurer
- Obtaining the necessary evidence to prove your claim
- Organizing medical records and bills
- Ensuring all medical records are in order
- Negotiating with the insurance company to reach a satisfactory settlement
If an agreement cannot be reached between you and the negligent driver’s insurance company, an attorney can help you file a lawsuit to recover damages.
Alaska attorney Ben Crittenden has helped countless accident victims, and he can put his experience to work for you. Call his Anchorage office today or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to learn more.