We rely on our roads and infrastructure to get us where we need to go every day. Getting behind the wheel without a second thought, we seldom realize that driving can pose a serious threat to our safety. In fact, car accidents happen every day across the US. Some are minor, but some are much more severe, resulting in serious injuries and even death.
In the wake of losing a loved one in an accident, your life can change in an instant, upending future plans and financial security. When a loved loses their life in an auto accident, surviving family members are usually faced with unexpected expenses and loss of income, plus the immense emotional pain and suffering they must face as they grieve.
Surviving families must understand their options for receiving the resources needed to get through this difficult time. That’s where a wrongful death case comes into play. Wrongful death cases can provide grieving families with the financial resources to recover lost wages, pay funeral and medical expenses, and more.
Keep reading to learn more about wrongful death auto accident cases, and how much you can expect to get from your case.
A wrongful death is when an individual passes away from a wrongful act or the negligence of another person. Wrongful deaths can occur from medical malpractice, pharmaceutical negligence, airplane crashes, deaths in the workplace, and, of course, car crashes.
Car crashes are incredibly common occurrences in the US. Some are minor. Some may result in injuries needing medical attention. And some can result in serious injuries and death. In these fatal car accidents, usually one driver is responsible for the crash. The driver at fault could have been distracted, under the influence, or just driving recklessly.
Some examples of wrongful death cases include a family seeking justice for a loved one lost to a drunk driver, or a loved one who lost their life in a crash where a distracted driver was on their phone behind the wheel.
No one expects an accident to happen and turn their life upside down. But accidents happen all too often — and those who lose a loved one in a fatal accident have to deal with the cascading effects of a sudden loss. These span emotional pain and suffering, grief, unexpected expenses, and lost wages.
First, there’s the shock and grief from such a loss. Loved ones are faced with sudden funeral and burial costs, which they may not be prepared for financially. There’s also medical bills from their loved one’s final hospital visit to pay. The family may face financial hardship due to lost wages and benefits, especially if the deceased was a breadwinner of the family. And of course, there’s the unquantifiable loss of a loved one’s companionship and care.
For all of these reasons, it makes sense to file a wrongful death case, which can provide the deceased’s loved ones with the resources needed to overcome financial and emotional difficulties in the wake of such a loss. Pecuniary, or financial, damages are awarded to the surviving family to help them recover.
Following the loss of a loved one, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the spouse, children, or other family members of the individual who passed away from a car crash. In most cases, a wrongful death case is a civil case, where individuals go to court to settle disputes, which includes death from negligence. As opposed to a criminal case, which features the state and a defendant, civil cases benefit from a lower standard of proof.
Wrongful death laws differ from state to state. Every state has their own wrongful death statute. For example, in Minnesota, a wrongful death is “caused by the wrongful act or omission of any person or corporation.” This includes actions that a person neglected to do. There is a statute of limitations on wrongful death cases. For example, in Minnesota, you have three years to file a wrongful death claim.
If you’re in the unfortunate circumstances of losing a loved one to an auto accident, you need to consider all of your options. A wrongful death case can provide you with the financial resources you need to tie up the loose ends of a loved one’s sudden death. And then there’s the grief and suffering that comes with such an abrupt loss. A wrongful death case can help with that too.
So, with that in mind, you may be wondering, how much is my wrongful death auto accident case worth?
Sometimes people are hesitant to ask about the financials of a wrongful death case. After all, no amount of money could ever bring back their loved one. But there’s nothing wrong with wanting to know — after all, when a loved one passes away, financial concerns can be at an all time high, given the sudden loss of income and mounting expenses. This is especially true when the deceased was a breadwinner for the family. Grieving family members need to know their options so they avoid economic hardship as they get through a difficult time.
No two wrongful death auto accident cases are exactly alike, so it’s difficult to give an exact range as to what one can expect from their case. Wrongful death auto accident cases can range from thousands to millions, but if it is shown that the deceased may be partially at fault for the accident, that number could be reduced.
If you’re wondering how much your wrongful death case is worth, keep in mind that these settlements are usually calculated on a number of factors within the case. In short, these are based off of:
Economic damages include lost wages, lost benefits, the lost prospect of inheritance, medical expenses, funeral expenses, the loss of household help, and legal fees. All expenses that the surviving family incurs for hospital stays, medical treatment, funeral and burial costs, as well as estate and legal fees fall into this category, and are covered by the damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit.
In order to calculate a person’s potential lifetime earnings, their age, career, earning capacity, life expectancy, health, and character are all examined in order to come to a fair estimate.
These types of losses don’t come with a price tag. But nevertheless, these losses are equally difficult for the surviving family to endure. These include grief, emotional and psychological pain and suffering, loss of companionship, loss of support, loss of care, loss of parental guidance, loss of consortium, and more.
Damages are collected for these noneconomic losses, so that the family has access to the resources to recover from the emotional and psychological turmoil of the sudden loss.
There’s another type of damage that is included in wrongful death cases — survival action. This applies when the deceased does not pass away immediately after the accident. The survival action accounts for the deceased’s pain and suffering prior to death.
Elements that go into this calculation include the levels of pain and distress the deceased experienced, the apprehension of death, and the degree to which the deceased was conscious prior to passing.
So, if you’re wondering how much your wrongful death case could be worth, consider all of these elements and potential damages. Estimates for these different types of losses are added up and awarded to the surviving families — which is why they can vary so much.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate event of losing a loved one in an auto accident, you don’t have to go it alone. You’re entitled to bring legal action in the form of a wrongful death case, and to compensation for your loss. This includes medical expenses for your deceased family member, funeral and burial expenses, and even lost wages or benefits for the surviving family.
An experienced personal injury attorney can review your case and help you understand how much your wrongful death auto accident case may be worth. Remember, the statute of limitations in Minnesota is three years for wrongful death from negligence, so don’t wait to act on a wrongful death claim.
Weston Law Office helps people in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities suburbs get the compensation they need following a tragic fatal auto accident. Contact us today about how we can help you pursue a wrongful death case. Consultations are 100% free — the only risk is not getting the compensation to which you’re entitled.