Fatal car accidents might seem unthinkable to most people. However, these collisions happen with unfortunate frequency. The sudden loss of a loved one due to an avoidable car accident can be difficult to accept. A wrongful death lawsuit could provide you with a measure of justice following the sudden passing of your loved one.
If you have lost a family member in a car accident, you could hold the responsible party accountable. The thought of pursuing legal action in these cases might seem overwhelming, but you do not have to undertake this challenge alone. Reach out to a Tampa car accident lawyer right away to learn more.
Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit After a Fatal Car Accident?
Only one party has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit following a fatal car accident: the personal representative of the estate. While some states allow for surviving family members to file these lawsuits on their own, that is not the case in Florida.
The personal representative for an estate is typically appointed in the decedent’s last will and testament. However, some people nominated for the position are unable or unwilling to fill it. In other situations, motorists without an estate plan will not have nominated a personal representative at all. In these cases, it is up to the court to appoint someone to the position. This is often a family member.
The personal representative acts on behalf of the estate when filing these lawsuits, but they are not entitled to the proceeds. Instead, the compensation recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit is intended for surviving relatives like a spouse or children.
For a free legal consultation with a fatal car accidents lawyer serving Tampa, call 863-250-5050
Demonstrating Liability in a Fatal Accident
Just like with any negligence-based claim, a successful wrongful death lawsuit requires evidence of fault. There must be evidence that the party that caused the fatal accident was negligent in order for a lawsuit to be successful. Proof of negligence includes four distinct elements. If a plaintiff cannot establish even one of these elements, the case will be unsuccessful. Thankfully, an attorney could assist with building the strongest case for negligence possible.
First, there must be a duty of cared owed in a fatal accident case. This is rarely at issue, given that all motorists owe each other a duty to drive in a safe manner. This includes all drivers involved in the fatal crash.
Second, there must be evidence that the duty of care was breached by the defendant. This can occur any time an accident results from a party’s carelessness or recklessness. In the case of fatal car accidents, the breach of a duty could involve driving while impaired or failing to yield the right-of-way.
Third, there needs to be causation. Causation is the link between a breached duty of care and a motorist’s fatal injuries. Essentially, this means there must be evidence that the fatal injuries would not have occurred but for the negligent act.
The final step relates to damages. There must be compensable damages sustained in the fatal accident in order for compensation to be available. This could include things like medical bills or burial costs.
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How Could an Attorney Help?
There are many steps that go into a successful lawsuit. Not only must an attorney prove liability for a fatal accident, but they must also demonstrate the amount of financial damages sustained in the case. Some of the ways a Tampa fatal car accident lawyer could help include:
Investigating the Fatal Accident
Before an attorney can pursue a lawsuit, it is necessary to understand how the fatal accident occurred. Did it involve a drunk driver? Did it occur in an intersection? These basic facts can help an attorney develop a picture of the collision. By the end of the investigation, an attorney should identify the at-fault party as well as a theory of negligence.
Working with Law Enforcement
Many fatal car accidents result in criminal charges. While the police do not decide whether or not the estate files a wrongful death lawsuit, it is not uncommon to pursue a case once the criminal charges are resolved. An attorney could communicate with police and prosecutors for that purpose.
Negotiating a Settlement
Many fatal car accidents ultimately lead to a financial settlement. However, it can take the work of an attorney to obtain a fair and reasonable offer. Negotiating a settlement with the other side can be difficult, but an attorney could rely on their experience and skill to get the best offer possible.
Litigating the Case
Some fatal car accident cases will end up in litigation. Even cases that ultimately settle could stem from a lawsuit in the beginning. Your attorney could handle all of the complex aspects of a wrongful death lawsuit.
Common Types of Fatal Car Accidents
Fatal accidents can occur under many different circumstances. Some common causes of fatal accidents include:
Rollover accidents can involve a single vehicle or multiple cars. Either way, they frequently result in severe or even fatal injuries due the significant impact to the top of the vehicle.
Head-on collisions are arguably the most dangerous type of car accident. They often occur at higher speeds, and the tremendous force generated by two cars colliding from opposite directions can result in fatal injuries.
Side-impact collisions, which include T-bone accidents, frequently result in serious bodily injuries. These have the potential to also lead to fatal injuries.
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Talk to an Attorney About Pursuing Legal Action After a Fatal Car Accident
If you have lost a close family member in a fatal car accident, legal action against the responsible party could be possible. It is helpful in these difficult situations to have the guidance of legal counsel. Even if you are not a representative of the estate, an attorney could help you protect your rights.
Do not face this challenging time on your own. Let the attorneys of Dismuke Law provide you with the compassionate legal service you deserve. Reach out to a Tampa fatal car accident lawyer right away for a free consultation.