After a car accident, there are so many pieces to put back together. But when you lost someone important to you in that crash, it can be even more difficult. Whether you were in the crash or not, it’s likely fallen to you to decide whether or not to proceed with a wrongful death claim.
A Richmond, VA car accident lawyer can help you through your entire claim process. Not only handling the insurance aspect but determining how to proceed with a wrongful death claim as well.
Driving is dangerous, and there’s no doubt that every year, an unnecessary amount of people lose their lives because of another driver’s carelessness. In 2017, 37,133 people died as a result of traffic accidents.
Liability and Fault
Determining fault is always a sticky subject. Not only do you have to proclaim that this other person was responsible for the crash, but that they were responsible for the death of a person as well. Although you’re the one grieving for someone close to you, it may be hard to say outright that another person is responsible for that loss.
The fault will be part of the deciding factor in your claim. It is likely that the other driver owed your loved one a duty of care and failed to provide that. The fault will determine who is liable for the expenses and costs which came with this crash.
Virginia uses a pure contributory negligence rule, which means that regardless of any extenuating circumstances, the fault falls to one person.
Starting a Wrongful Death Claim
When you’re sorting out what happened after a crash, you may need to work with your loved one’s insurance carrier and the police. The police will likely investigate the crash on their own, while the insurance company begins to try to determine fault.
If the police find that the crash came from negligence, which is quite frequent in traffic-related fatalities, then you can pursue a wrongful death claim.
What is a wrongful death claim? Essentially you are making a demand against the part which was responsible for your loved one’s death. You will need to start by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier. Depending on how that develops, you may want to consider filing a civil personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver directly.
You can pursue a case by filing a claim with the insurance provider of your deceased family member in the event that the other driver was under- or uninsured.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
There are times when people drive without the proper amount of insurance coverage. Wrongful death cases are also among the more frequent times when minimum insurance coverage cannot cover the damages.
Few key members of a family or household can file a claim for under- or uninsured motorist coverage in the event of a traffic fatality. These members are:
- The spouse of a child
Working with UM coverage during this process may be difficult as there are many small nuances to these claims. For example, the uninsured motorist will only cover wrongful death if the at-fault driver did not have valid insurance, which means that their policy lapsed.
Another nuance to workaround is that the insurance carrier may be sneaky with asking you to accept unreasonable terms. A common request is that you accept the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, which sounds reasonable but may waive your right to pursue the compensation you need.
Damages Involved in Wrongful Death Cases
There is no payout that can make this situation okay. However, it’s important that you clearly value the damages, or risk an insurance adjuster taking advantage of your grief. It’s difficult for many families, but you may need to work with a lawyer to assess the value of things such as “Loss of Companionship.”
Damages recoverable through a wrongful death claim may include:
- Medical bills in certain situations
- Funeral costs
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
- Loss of household income and benefits
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance for children
- Loss of meaningful life events
Contact A Richmond Auto Accident Lawyer
Proving that you have a valid reason to pursue a wrongful death claim is usually the more direct part of this process. Working with a lawyer can help you bring together the total of your damages and the evidence from the crash.
When you are ready to begin your case, contact CAIL. The Commonwealth Accident Injury Law offices help the families of auto accident victims pursue fair compensation.
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