It’s just about anyone’s worst nightmare: losing a loved one in a car accident. America’s roadways can be dangerous, and you never know when you’re going to encounter a situation where a family member loses their life. If that happens, poor road conditions might cause it, or it could be a vehicular malfunction that proved deadly.
However, you also might feel like another driver’s reckless actions caused the accident which killed your family member. If so, you may wonder what you can about it.
Let’s talk about what some of your options are so that if this tragic event ever occurs, you will know what steps you can take.
This Happens Fairly Frequently
The first thing you should realize is that you’re not alone if you suffer this sort of calamity. 2019 saw 33,244 car accidents with fatal injuries. Cars are usually multi-ton vehicles, and one mistake can cost someone their life.
The first thing you’ll need to do is collect yourself and get all the facts regarding the accident. You might have to get an accident report from the police, and you’ll want all the medical facts regarding what happened to your family member as well. If you were in the crash yourself, but you survived, then you can draw on your firsthand knowledge of what happened as you decide what to do next.
Gather Any Necessary Paperwork
You’ll need to locate any paperwork before you determine whether it’s worth it to sue the other driver or anyone else who you feel caused what happened. In addition to the police report about the accident, you’ll want any insurance documents having to do with the crash. You’ll need any estate documents that tell what your loved one wanted to be done with their effects.
You will want to locate your loved one’s last will and testament if one exists. You’ll want any medical bills your loved one incurred, if applicable. Finally, you will need funeral cost receipts.
You’ll want to keep a running tab of how much everything costs. This is money that you can try to get back from the individual or entity you are suing if you decide that step is worth it.
Reach Out to a Competent, Skilled Lawyer
At this point, you will need to figure out whether suing is indeed the correct step. You’ll likely need a lawyer’s advice about that unless you know the law very well yourself.
When you approach a lawyer, you will show them all the paperwork you collected, as well as explain to them in your own words what happened. Again, it’s helpful if you were in the crash yourself or saw the accident scene, but that’s not necessary. The point is you’ll have the best chance of having a case you can bring against the responsible party in court if you have substantial physical evidence to prove they acted inappropriately.
Follow the Lawyer’s Advice
Next, you’ll wait while the lawyer or firm looks over the paperwork and figures out whether suing is the best move. Bringing a lawsuit is pointless if the lawyer feels like you’re not going to be able to prove your assertion that the other driver caused the wreck.
If the lawyer feels like you don’t have enough evidence, or there is no way to prove the other driver did something wrong, they will tell you that. You might take them at their word, or you can seek a second opinion.
If the lawyer says you have a case and they’re willing to take you on as a client, you’ll have to figure out a payment plan that works for you. You might go with a contingency-based payment plan, but that’s up to you.
You and your lawyer will determine what you feel is the proper monetary amount based on several different factors. You’ll look at medical bills, but you’ll also have to think about less tangible factors, such as your pain and suffering because your loved one is gone. It can be harder to put a dollar amount on that.
Pursue the Lawsuit
Once you have a particular dollar amount in mind, you can notify the individual or entity that you’re suing of your intentions. They can either get a lawyer and offer a compensatory amount, or else they can allow the case to go to trial, where they will take their chances with a jury.
Hopefully, you can prove they were responsible and collect financial compensation accordingly.