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What Happens When Someone Dies in a Car Accident?

If your spouse or close relative died in a car accident, you might have questions about how your life will change and what to expect. Is someone going to make the person who caused the crash to pay for taking the life of your loved one? Will there be justice?

In other words, what happens when someone dies in a car accident? A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you about holding the at-fault party responsible for ending your loved one’s life.

Does it Matter if the At-Fault Party Has Criminal Charges as a Result of the Collision?

If the person legally liable for the accident that killed your loved one gets charged with a crime arising out of the crash, like road rage, vehicular manslaughter, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that criminal case does not prevent you from filing a wrongful death claim against that driver. The criminal case is entirely separate from the civil wrongful death lawsuit. 

It is not a defense in the civil wrongful death case if the at-fault party does not get charged with a crime, negotiates a plea bargain, or gets the charges dismissed. On the other hand, if the defendant gets convicted of the charges, that fact could be useful in your civil wrongful death case.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits After a Fatal Car Accident

Sometimes there are legal grounds for filing a wrongful death lawsuit after a person dies in a crash. Unfortunately, there is not an automatic right to collect money damages after your close relative’s life ends prematurely in a collision. You will have to show that someone committed a negligent or intentional wrongful act that caused the accident that killed your loved one.

An accident can happen without anyone being at fault. For example, bad weather might suddenly turn the roads into dangerous places. A tornado or hurricane might shut down visibility quickly. 

Your personal injury lawyer can investigate to see who could be legally liable for the death of your close relative. There might be more than one potential defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. Two drivers might have been careless, and their actions combined to cause the crash. You might be able to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver and his employer if he was on the job at the time of the collision.

A defect in a car might be grounds to sue the vehicle manufacturer if the flaw was a factor in the accident. If the local government did not maintain the street or lighting appropriately, they might bear some responsibility.

Compensation in a Successful Wrongful Death Lawsuit

After you establish the fault and liability of the defendant, you might be able to collect money damages for your losses, which can include things like:

  • Loss of the financial support of the deceased person
  • Loss of the services the decedent provided to the family, like cooking the meals, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, and other things that would be expensive to pay someone else to do. 
  • Loss of the guidance and companionship of the deceased person.
  • The medical bills from the injuries received in the accident. Some people die at the scene of the crash, but others might battle their injuries for days or even months before they succumb to their wounds. 
  • The deceased person might have endured physical discomfort and emotional distress from the time of the accident until their death. Pain and suffering can justify an award of money damages.
  • Funeral and burial expenses are other costs that resulted from the defendant’s action.

You might have additional types of compensation available, depending on the unique facts of your situation. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can help you go after money damages in a wrongful death claim. Get in touch with our office today for legal assistance, we offer a free consultation.