What are my rights if someone in my family was killed in a car accident?

Accidents involving death are particularly difficult for everyone involved, but they can be even more complex if a family member’s death was the fault of a third party. If this is the case, it’s important to note that family members have rights and are able to submit a wrongful death claim.

The first step is the raising of an estate. If the person who died left a Will, that generally names the person or people who can act as executors of the estate. If there was no Will, then the representative individual (a spouse, adult child, or parent) must take out Letters of Administration at the Register of Wills office. After doing so, they have the ability to proceed with the claim on behalf of the estate of the decedent.

The claim on behalf of the estate and relatives has two components. The first component is the pain and suffering and lost income of the deceased, as well as other out of pocket losses which are referred to as a survival claim. This claim is held by the estate with the recovery benefitting the legal heirs such as family members. The second component is a wrongful death claim and is for dependent close family members including parents, spouses and children. In addition to out of pocket losses, wrongful death also includes damages for loss of the companionship, society, guidance and in the case of spouses, consortium of the deceased victim.

Directly following an accident resulting in the loss of a loved one, family members are typically in the throes of the grieving process. Submitting a wrongful death claim may be the last thing on their mind. However, there are statutes of limitations, so it is best to start a claim right away. This is when hiring a personal injury attorney can be helpful. Having a PI lawyer on your side can take the pressure off of you and your surviving family members-they can organize and handle the proceedings, giving you a chance to grieve your loss.

At Berger and Green, we have been helping clients with their wrongful death claims for forty years. Give us a call and talk to us for free. 1-800-999-2626.