When car accidents happen locally, all involved parties are required to contact the police department in that city. However, when an accident occurs on a highway or outside the city limits, the drivers should contact the Georgia State Patrol or the county Sheriff’s department. Drivers are also required by law to provide medical help to anyone who has suffered injuries in a collision.
Unfortunately, many of these injuries prove to be fatal. Losing a friend or family member in a car accident is traumatic, and the negligent driver must be held accountable. To do so, family members can partner with a personal injury lawyer and file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased.
What to Do if a Loved One Dies in a Georgia Car Accident
When a loved one dies in a Georgia car accident, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), wrongful death accidents account for over 173,000 deaths per year.
Those eligible to bring a wrongful death case are (in descending order):
- 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 car accident wrongful death claim is to seek justice from those responsible. A lawsuit also requests compensation for the loss of the deceased’s life and the financial, emotional, and other effects their death will have on their surviving loved ones.
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Determining Fault in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Fatal car accidents are frequently attributed to the negligence of another person. All drivers are obliged to drive safely and avoid causing harm to other drivers and pedestrians. When someone fails to exercise reasonable care and causes an accident, they are liable for the damages.
When someone dies in a car accident that was another driver’s fault, family members file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. However, in most cases, the defendant’s auto insurance company is responsible for covering the damages.
Proving Fault and Liability
To prove that another driver caused the fatal auto accident, you must demonstrate that:
- The other driver had a duty of care to act in a way that didn’t harm the victim.
- The other driver’s negligence violated that duty.
- Their negligence led or contributed directly to the victim’s death.
- There are damages from the accident and death.
The insurance company will look for ways to deny or undermine your wrongful death claim, so you must gather evidence to support your wrongful death case. Insurance companies care about their bottom line and do what they can to pay as little as possible. To get the damages you and your family deserve, you will need to assemble a solid case.
This is hard enough for any injury victim, but it is especially difficult when you are mourning the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death lawyer can handle the litigation process so you can focus on healing from your trauma.
Is Another Driver Always at Fault in a Car Accident Death?
When someone dies in a car accident, it is often caused by another driver, but not always.
Anyone whose negligence directly led to the death can be liable for damages. Although it is rare, the fault can fall on a bicyclist, motorcyclist, pedestrian, or car repair shop if they failed to perform proper maintenance on the deceased’s vehicle.
There are also times when more than one person or party is to blame for the fatality. In some situations, the person who died holds some of the responsibility for the accident. Even in these situations, however, their family or estate can still claim damages that may be reduced by the victim’s percentage of fault.
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Damages You Can Claim After a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident
Although money can never make up for a loved one’s life, it is the only way the law can compensate a victim’s family for their loss. Recovery helps families with the financial burden after someone dies in a car accident. Not worrying about expenses and bills can make it easier to focus on what’s most important: honoring their loved one and slowly putting things back together.
If you bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of your loved one, you can sue for damages that include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of care or companionship
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured before their death
- Funeral and burial costs
Can I Sue for Punitive Damages After a Fatal Car Accident?
After a fatal crash, you may also be able to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the wrongdoer and discourage other poor conduct.
For example, fatal car accidents often result from reckless or wanton behavior, such as drunk driving. If your car accident lawyer can prove these factors in your case, you may be awarded punitive damages.
You Only Have a Limited Amount of Time to File a Claim
If you are interested in pursuing a wrongful death claim after a car accident in Georgia, time may be limited to pursue your case. The statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is set at a maximum of two years after the date of the decedent’s death.
However, if you pursue an insurance claim for your loved one’s fatal car accident, you may have as few as 30 days to file with the insurance company. If you wait until after the statute of limitations has passed, you risk losing your opportunity to seek compensation. When you have a wrongful death attorney working on your case, you can move forward with your wrongful death lawsuit and get justice.
A Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Strengthens Your Case
Wrongful death claims can be complicated and overwhelming, so we recommend reaching out to an Atlanta wrongful death lawyer for help. Legal experts can build a strong case, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. When you partner with a wrongful death lawyer, you can feel confident that you will receive maximum compensation for your loss.
Partner with a Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Now
When someone dies in a car accident, their family can file an insurance claim against the at-fault party. However, we know this can be a difficult time for all involved, and we are here to help fight for the victim’s rights.
At John Foy & Associates, our wrongful death lawyers have over 20 years of experience helping victims and their families recover what they deserve. We can help you by starting with a free consultation. Call our office or fill out a contact form now.
Call or text 404-400-4000 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form