Any time a person dies it can be a sad and emotional time for the immediate family and relatives of the deceased person. Under the best of circumstances, such as death by natural causes, spouses, children and other dependants can face an uncertain future. But when loss of life is caused by possible negligence on the part of another individual, such as in a car, motorcycle or trucking-related accident, the tragedy is amplified many times over.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, my firm understands the difficult times that a family faces after the loss of a loved one. If a family member dies because of another individual’s negligent or wrongful behavior, it may be appropriate to file a wrongful death claim.
Such claims allow members of a family to receive compensation for their loss — including loss of comfort, love, companionship, and financial support. It must be kept in mind that death does not negate a family’s right to be compensated for its loss. Furthermore, it does not preclude recovery for any suffering or pain that the deceased experienced as a result of wrongful or negligent actions on another person’s part.
Wrongful death following an automobile accident is described as any death which is due in whole or in part to the negligence or deliberate misconduct of another person. The term “car accident” can be a poor choice of words in cases of wrongful death, especially since many auto and trucking wrecks are caused by another person who often is determined to have been operating their vehicle in an inappropriate manner that either caused or worsened the actual vehicle crash.
If a car accident claims the life of a loved one as a result of another driver’s error or negligence, this may be cause for a wrongful death lawsuit. Actions on the part of another driver that may point to wrongful death can include one or more of the following:
— Drunk driving
— Following too close
— Performed illegal driving maneuver
— Defective road conditions
— Defective vehicle safety equipment
In some instances the cause may seem minor, however when another driver is speeding, for example, not only is that person breaking the law, he or she is increasing the danger their vehicle poses to others on the road.
For instance, a large sport utility vehicle (SUV) that weighs as much as 6,000 pounds and is traveling at 55mph is actually carrying more than 600,000 ft-lbs force of kinetic energy. Bring the speed up to 65mph and the amount of energy jumps by almost 40 percent. That amount of increased force cannot be overlooked when a fatal accident is the result.
Of course, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by anyone who was hurt by the accident. Although the deceased individual cannot file a suit on his or her behalf, a lawsuit can be filed on behalf of that individual’s estate. This can include not only costs for medical bills and expenses, but if the death entailed significant pain and suffering such as fatal burn injuries, damages may also be sought for these as well.
Additionally, the surviving spouse and/or children may also file for economic and non-economic damages as they relate to the deceased’s lost wages as well as the loss of companionship.