Indiana’s traffic fatality rate is 13 in 100,000 as of 2017. A greater percentage of fatalities occurred in non-urban areas, potentially due to higher speed limits. Unsurprisingly, the risk for fatality increases for younger drivers, drivers and passengers not using seat belts, drivers exceeding the speed limit, and motorcyclists. Although Indiana is far from the most dangerous state for drivers, the risk is very real.
Wrongful Death Claims
If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident, you may be able to recover some compensation to help you pay for the medical bills, funeral expenses, and other financial impacts of your loss. If your loss resulted from wrongful death, then the at-fault driver can be held liable for these expenses. A claim for wrongful death is essentially a personal injury claim for situations in which the victim is deceased. Before you can work to recoup some of the financial costs of your loss, you must be able to prove that the defendant is at fault for the car accident. Common examples of situations in which the other driver can be held liable include:
- Driving under the influence (drunk driving)
- Failing to obey traffic signals
- Distracted Driving
Even if the other driver was not ticketed, your attorney can still help you to show that the defendant was at fault. Police reports, as well as any other documentation you can provide related to the accident, will be essential for the claim.
Who Must File?
Once you determine that your loved one’s accident was caused by the wrongful actions of another person, you will want to begin the process of filing a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims have to be filed by the personal representative of the deceased’s estate or, in the event of a child’s death, by the parents. However, the beneficiaries of any damages will typically be the surviving spouse, children, or dependents. In many cases, the estate representative is also a relative and dependent of the deceased. Therefore, it is essential to have an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with the requisite paperwork and evidence to support your claim.
It is important to note that any criminal case pertaining to the accident will not substitute for a wrongful death claim. In cases in which the defendant broke the law, the criminal case pursued by the state will not benefit the estate, so you will still need to file a separate civil case. Although the two cases are not dependent on each other, your civil case can use evidence and results from the criminal case to help prove your claim.
Contact an Attorney
During this difficult time, it is important to have an experienced Fort Wayne car accident attorney working with you to make sure that those left behind are able to pay for medical and burial expenses, as well as to recover some of the lost wages the deceased would have provided. No amount of money can replace your loved one, but you can reduce the financial impact of your loss and, thus, your stress. Contact the attorneys at Truitt Law Offices today to schedule a consultation.