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A Car Accident
By GRACIE HART 665 views
LAW

What Can You Do To Get The Compensation You Deserve After A Family Member Dies From A Car Accident?

Getting fair financial compensation after a loved one’s death will never make up for their Accidental death, but it can help provide stability during the grieving process. Here is everything you need to know about how to get the maximum compensation you rightfully deserve.

Report the Accident Immediately

The first thing you must do after any motor vehicle accident resulting in serious injury or death is call the police. An official accident report is crucial to making your injury claim later. The report will have key details about all parties and vehicles involved and establish important facts about how the crash happened.

When you call 911, clearly state there has been a major accident with a fatality. Provide the exact location and ask them to send police and paramedics right away. While waiting for them to arrive, don’t let anyone leave the scene. Get the names, contact details, and insurance information of all drivers involved. If possible, take photos of the accident scene from different angles as evidence.

Reporting it quickly also starts an official timeline of the incident which can become very important later.

Get An Autopsy Report

After a fatal accident, you need to establish the precise medical cause and manner of your loved one’s death. This requires getting an autopsy report from the coroner’s office. It’s a detailed forensic examination of the body done after any unusual or unnatural death.

Don’t be afraid to ask the coroner questions. Make sure the autopsy lists the exact injuries suffered and categorizes all relevant causal factors. Having confirmation your loved one died directly due to vehicular trauma can become vital evidence.

If the initial coroner’s report is inconclusive about anything regarding causation, you may need to request additional testing or analysis to eliminate any uncertainties. Getting a thorough and conclusive determination of death circumstances in the autopsy conclusions will help support the amount of compensation you deserve.

Understand Different Legal Avenues

Losing a loved one to an accident entitles you to monetary damages under two distinct areas of law:

  • Wrongful Death Claim – Compensates family members for losing their loved one’s financial support, companionship, inheritance rights, etc.
  • Survival Action – Compensates the deceased person’s estate for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.

The defendants, plaintiffs, distribution of damages, time limits, and burden of proof differ substantially between these two options. An experienced wrongful death attorney understands the finer complexities of each and can pursue them concurrently to maximize wrongful death compensation.

Initial consultations are often free. Interview multiple lawyers and find one willing to work on contingency, getting paid only if they win your case. Make sure you clearly understand all options so informed decisions can be made.

Speak With An Attorney About Wrongful Death Claims

The law provides for two potential civil lawsuits after a wrongful death by vehicle – a personal injury suit and a wrongful death suit. They have different purposes, defendants, financial limits, and distributions of any settlements. You need expert legal advice to know which is best for your situation.

A wrongful death attorney can fully investigate the accident circumstances, provide opinions on viable legal avenues, and determine all negligent parties that can be sued. Consult with several to find one willing to work on a contingency fee basis, taking their payment as a percentage of the final settlement. This avoids any upfront costs to you.

Attorneys can also negotiate strongly with insurers, locate additional compensation sources, and give guidance on realistic settlement sums. Don’t sign any releases or waivers without your lawyer reviewing them first. Make sure you understand all your options before agreeing to a settlement figure.

File an Insurance Claim Immediately

The at-fault driver’s insurance policy should cover third-party injury claims up to their coverage limit. As a bereaved family member, you’re entitled to compensation for funeral costs, financial support loss, emotional damages, and more.

Contact information for their insurer is readily available from:

  • Accident report
  • Vehicle registration
  • The driver
  • Online insurance databases

To start the claims process:

  • Get the Required Forms – Forms are available online or from the insurer/agent. For fatalities, the standard personal injury form needs to be appended.
  • Fill Out Fully and Carefully – Provide exhaustive documentation on all losses and damages within each category. Calculations must be clear and meticulous.
  • Send Repeatedly Via Registered Mail – Submit the packet urgently, following up continually to confirm its arrival and review status. Keep dated mailing receipts.

Timeline regulations govern how quickly insurers must acknowledge and respond to properly documented claims. If delays occur nonetheless, a professional demand letter from your attorney can light the proverbial fire under them.

Locate Additional Compensation Sources

Insurer payouts often have shockingly low caps considering the immense trauma of losing a loved one. And no money can truly compensate for that emotional devastation. However, many additional sources exist that you have a right to pursue:

  • The Deceased’s Life Insurance – Death benefit clauses and double indemnity provisions specifically assist accident fatalities. Submit claims to every life insurance policy immediately.
  • Your Own Auto Insurance – Uninsured, underinsured, and no-fault motorist coverage on your current policies possibly apply. Insurers rarely voluntarily mention these so explicitly ask about them!
  • Defendant Assets – If their coverage limit is surpassed by your rightful damages, their assets can be seized through litigation. This requires winning the case in court.
  • Your Employer – Employee insurance, workers compensation, workplace accident plans… investigate them all and file claims whenever eligible.
  • Government Assistance – Federal and state programs like VOCA sometimes have monetary assistance for families of accident victims.
  • Legal Damages – Pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and other non-economic damages are decided during trial. The sky’s the limit if the jury sides fully with you.

Don’t Rush Settlement or Sign Away Rights

Getting some money quickly may be tempting after an accident but can harm your total compensation. Settlements nearly always end all possibility of future payouts. So move urgently but carefully, fully understanding each document signed.

Review settlement offers very closely with your attorney before signing. Check calculations cover every applicable damage area, account for future losses and inflation, and reflect the full scope of long-term impacts. Don’t let urgency or smoothed-over generalities cost you thousands in lost compensation down the road.

If any parts of a settlement seem rushed, undetailed, or difficult to understand, demand additional time for full legal review. You need to grasp the complete picture before signing away your rights. Protect yourself and your family through patience and diligence.

Stay Vigilant Throughout the Process

The long road towards rightful compensation is full of administrative, legal, and emotional obstacles. Staying vigilant and assertive is crucial but exhausting without help:

  • Appoint a family claims manager – Have one trusted person handle all paperwork, correspondence, research, and phone calls. Maintain one central repository of every document related to the case. Schedule regular case reviews with your attorney.
  • Follow Up Constantly – Don’t just file claims then wait! Follow up perpetually on all filings and inquiries until the check is in hand. Escalate repeatedly if stalled. Politely but firmly request updates from everyone involved.
  • Review Settlement Offers Meticulously – Don’t rush into settlements without fully understanding what rights they sign away. Negotiate firmly if offers seem undervalued based on precedents. Don’t let them pressure you. Demand all the time needed to ensure fair compensation is secured.
  • Take Care of Yourself! – This tedious process accompanies profound grief. Make space for mourning with loved ones. Maintain self-care routines like healthy eating, exercise, massages, and counseling. You need resilience and stamina to achieve justice.

Staying constructively angry, leaning on community strength, and pouring love into personal wellness help sustain the fight when fairness seems elusive. With enough perseverance, you can secure all the compensation the law permits.

Gracie Hart
Author
GRACIE HART

Freelance Writer, Digital Marketer, and Content Writer