Losing a family member under any circumstance can be a difficult experience. This is especially true when a family member dies in a fatal car accident that could have been prevented. Though nothing can really make up for the loss of a loved one, there are legal actions that you can take such as filing a wrongful death claim that can help the family of the victim recover most if not all of the financial damages that result. This can significantly alleviate the financial burden felt by the family after a fatal car accident.
Wrongful death cases due to a fatal car accident are civil lawsuits that are brought by the family of the deceased against the driver or other responsible party for the death. These suits are based on the theory of negligence, which means that the responsible driver failed to take reasonable care to avoid causing the accident. In a wrongful death suit, the family of the deceased can seek compensation for their losses, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish the responsible party.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Nevada, only the legal heirs of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in the event of a fatal car accident. This usually includes heirs such as the surviving spouse or domestic partner, their surviving children, parents of the deceased if there are no surviving spouse or children, or a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. However, a loss of life does not automatically mean that a person can file a wrongful death claim. For an individual to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of a deceased relative, they first need to be a legal heir and there would also need to be proof of negligence.
What Wrongful Damages Can You Sue For?
As the family of the deceased, several different damages can be sued over following a fatal car accident. The first category of damages is those that can be measured quantitatively such as medical bills, lost wages, and funeral costs. These are all damages that directly correlate to a dollar amount. The second category of damages is those that cannot be calculated using such as physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship or care. In this case, the family would be suing over the mental, emotional, and financial hardship that may result from the loss of a relative— especially a caretaker.
Statistics for Motor Vehicle Collisions in the U.S.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020 there were an estimated 40,000 fatalities from motor vehicle collisions in the United States. Of those fatalities, 68% (27,050) were occupants of passenger vehicles, 16% (6,400) were occupants of light trucks and vans, 15% (6,100) were pedestrians, and 1% (400) were motorcyclists.
In 2020, there were an estimated 5.4 million police–reported motor vehicle collisions in the US. Of those collisions, 77% resulted in no injury, 17% resulted in non–incapacitating injuries, 5% resulted in incapacitating injuries, and 1% resulted in fatalities.
Statistics for Motor Vehicle Collisions in Nevada
According to the Nevada Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety, in 2020 there were approximately 11,700 motor vehicle collisions in the state of Nevada. Of those collisions, 43% resulted in no injury, 37% resulted in non–incapacitating injuries, 16% resulted in incapacitating injuries, and 4% resulted in fatalities. In 2020, there were approximately 132 fatalities from motor vehicle collisions in Nevada. Of those fatalities, 88% (116) were occupants of motor vehicles, 10% (13) were pedestrians, and 2% (3) were motorcyclists.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
After a family member is in a fatal motor vehicle collision, it is highly encouraged that they meet with an experienced attorney who will be able to consult on the case and provide the family with a thorough case review. They can help protect the rights of the family and ensure that they receive the compensation they are entitled to. A personal injury attorney can also help with negotiations with insurance companies and other parties involved in the accident, and can provide legal advice on the best course of action.