What Happens When Someone Dies Due to a Car Accident?
Every year in America, more than 30,000 individuals lose their lives in car accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as recently as 2018 the total number of deaths from car accidents was 36,560. That year, Texas had one of the highest death counts in the country with 3,642 car accident fatalities.
When an individual dies in a car accident or later on from injuries resulting from the car accident, it can be a life-altering occurrence for their family. The death of a mother, father, or child is a huge emotional loss. But it can be a financial loss too.
Under Texas law, if an individual dies as the result of another person’s negligence, the negligent party could be found liable for damages. The law also states that when a person dies from another party’s negligence, the executor or administrator of their estate can sue the liable party for those damages.
Types of Damages Available in Wrongful Death Actions
Because the death of a loved one in a car accident can have far-reaching consequences, the types of damages the victim’s family can sue for (via their estate) can quickly add up and include both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages refer to things like medical bills, loss of income, the cost of household services the deceased can no longer perform, funeral and burial costs, and more. Non-economic damages include less tangible things such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and the like.
Both of these types of damages fall under the broader category known as compensatory damages. The idea is that the liable party should be required to compensate the victim’s family for their loss.
As you can imagine, the total dollar amount of all of the damages listed above can increase quickly. While that might seem like a positive for the family seeking compensatory damages, it is important to keep in mind that most people don’t have the money necessary to pay for everything the victim’s family is entitled to.
In that case, the victim’s insurance company is responsible for compensating the victim’s family. However, insurance companies will often fight large claims, either during the settlement process or in court. And, even if the insurance company does agree to compensate the victim’s family, the limits of the policy held by the deceased are often inadequate to ensure full compensation.
What If There’s More Than One Liable Party?
This scenario is why it is important to have a qualified personal injury attorney on your side. A skilled attorney will investigate your case and determine if more than one party is liable for the death of your loved one.
While it might not happen in every case, two or more parties being liable for a person’s death does happen. In addition to the driver of the other vehicle, the city or state could be liable if the road was not well maintained. Furthermore, if the medical professionals who treated your loved one were negligent they or the hospital where they work could also be found liable.
If there is another liable or potentially liable party, the amount of compensation your family could receive for the wrongful death of your spouse or child could increase significantly. Rather than settling for the inadequate compensation of one low-limit insurance policy, a seasoned lawyer will know what questions to ask and how to press on to find other liable parties if they exist.
Finally, a good personal injury lawyer will know how to shield you and your family from the quick settlements offered by the insurance company. By communicating with all liable parties on your behalf, your lawyer will ensure you say nothing to hurt your case. By representing your family on behalf of your deceased loved one, your lawyer will do everything in their power to maximize the compensation you can recover.