There is little more shocking or heartbreaking than losing a friend or family member in a car accident—especially when a negligent driver is involved. When someone dies in a car accident in Georgia, the at-fault driver should be held responsible, and the family of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death claim against them.
The details depend on who was involved in the accident, who was at fault, and what the damages were.
What If a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident in Georgia?
- Surviving spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse)
- Parent(s) of the deceased (if there is no surviving spouse or children)
- The deceased’s estate (if there is no surviving spouse, child, or parent)
The purpose of a wrongful death claim after a car accident is to help offset the financial (and emotional) impact of losing a loved one. The claim takes into account the deceased’s life and what they lost because of the accident and their last injuries. Since they cannot bring the case themselves, loved ones can do it for them.
How Does Fault Work When Someone Dies in a Car Accident in Georgia?
Fatal car accidents are almost always caused by someone being negligent. All drivers have a duty to act in a way that does not put others on the road in harm. When someone fails to exercise reasonable care and it causes an accident, they are negligent or “at fault.”
When someone dies and the car accident was another driver’s fault, family members will need to file their wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. In most cases, that driver’s auto insurance company is actually responsible for covering the damages.
Proving Fault and Liability
To have a successful insurance claim after someone dies in a car accident, those bringing the claim will need to prove the following:
- The other driver had a duty of care to act in a way that didn’t harm the victim.
- That duty was violated by the other driver’s negligence.
- Their negligence led to the victim’s death.
- There are damages from the accident and death.
To prove the above, you will need to gather evidence of the accident and your damages. The insurance company will look for ways to deny or undermine your wrongful death claim. They care most about their bottom line, which means they want to pay out as little as possible. To get the damages you and your family deserve, you will need to put together a solid case.
This is hard enough for any injury victim, but it’s especially difficult when you’re mourning a loved one in the process. A wrongful death lawyer can handle the legal aspects so you can focus on being with your family and honoring the deceased.
Is Another Driver Always at Fault in a Car Accident Death?
When someone dies in a car accident, it’s often caused by another driver—but not always.
Anyone whose negligence directly led to the death can be liable for damages. Although it’s rarer, sometimes fault may fall on a bicyclist or motorcyclist, pedestrian, or even a car repair shop if they failed to perform proper maintenance on the deceased’s vehicle and it led to a crash. In some situations, the person who died holds some or all of the responsibility for the accident.
There are also times where more than one person or party is at fault for the fatal car accident. If the victim held some degree of fault, their family or estate may still be able to make a claim for damages minus the victim’s percentage of fault.
What Damages Can Be Claim After a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident?
If you are legally able to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, you can include damages like:
- Medical expenses from their last illness or injury
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of care or companionship
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured before their death
- And funeral and burial costs
You may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are primarily meant to punish the wrongdoer and discourage further poor conduct. Fatal car accidents often result from reckless or wanton behavior, such as drunk driving. If that behavior can be demonstrated in your case, you may be awarded punitive damages.
Although money can never make up for the loss of someone’s life, it’s the only way the law knows of compensating a victim or family for what was lost. We find that recovering money from the accident helps families with the financial burden after someone dies in a car accident. Having one less thing to worry about makes it easier to focus on what’s most important: remembering their loved one and slowly putting things back together.
Wrongful death claims and be complicated and overwhelming, so we recommend reaching out to an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the car accident happens. They can help you build a strong case after the accident without you having to worry about the legal details.
Talk to a Wrongful Death Lawyer for Free Today
When someone dies in a car accident, their family may be able to file an insurance claim against the at-fault party for damages. However, this is a lot to handle on top of mourning the person who was killed. We know this can be an incredibly painful time for all involved, and we are here to help fight for the victim’s rights.
At John Foy & Associates, our wrongful death lawyers and car accident lawyers have over 20 years of experience helping victims and their families recover what they deserve. We can help you, too—starting with a FREE consultation. To schedule your free consultation today, call us at 404-400-4000 or fill out our contact form.