If your loved one died after injuries sustained in a car accident, you may be entitled to seek wrongful death damages. These damages are similar to those that are claimed in personal injury claims, but a surviving family member would receive the compensation instead of the injured party. This means the accident that caused the death would have to be similar to one that would be allowed as a personal injury claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Each state has different regulations that dictate who can file a wrongful death lawsuit after someone dies in an accident, though they are pretty similar from state to state. In most cases, an individual named as an heir is the same person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. This might include:
- A wife or husband
- An adult child
- A parent
- Adult stepchildren
- Other blood relatives
If the deceased was not married, the right to file a lawsuit would fall to the adult children. If the individual had no children, the right would fall to a parent, and so on until all resources have been exhausted, after which there probably would not be a wrongful death lawsuit at all.
What Damages Can Be Sought?
The damages that can be sought will also be largely dependent on the state the death occurred in, as well as the circumstances surrounding the death. For example, if surviving family members did not financially rely on the deceased individual at all, they may not be able to file a lawsuit. Some damages may include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills incurred after the accident and before the death
- Lost income that the family members would have otherwise relied on
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
What Is the Time Frame for Filing a Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations in each state determines the time frame you have to file a lawsuit against the driver responsible for your loved one’s death. Many states have a statute between two and four years, though there are some that are higher and some that are lower. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the allotted amount of time, you typically forfeit your right to compensation, though there are some exceptions. Speak with your lawyer to understand what those might be.
Getting in Touch With a Lawyer
After your loved one dies due to the negligent actions of another driver, it’s important you know what your rights are. Contact a Charlottesville, VA wrongful death attorney today to find out what you can do to receive compensation.
Thanks to MartinWren, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and wrongful death claims after an accident.