You might pursue a wrongful death claim in several situations. Some of these include:
When a victim is intentionally killed
When a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice
When a victim dies as a result of a car accident involving negligence
Since each situation has its own laws and processes, we'll focus on one in particular: car accident fatalities. Negligence in these kinds of accidents can manifest as one or more of the following:
Distracted driving (e.g. texting and driving)
Impaired driving (driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
Careless driving (not exercising the duty of reasonable care
The duty of reasonable care simply requires drivers to use caution when encountering anyone on the road. Accidents involving passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians all occur when drivers don't exercise this caution.
Of the three types of negligence mentioned above, impaired driving has become the largest offender. Let's take a closer look at some national statistics regarding this kind of negligent driving.
Impaired Driving Statistics
Impaired driving means the driver used alcohol or drugs that negatively affected his or her judgment and driving ability. According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/Motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html, impaired driving causes nearly 30 people to die each day in the United States. This amounts to one death every 51 minutes.
In 2012 alone, alcohol-impaired crashes caused 10,322 deaths. This number accounted for almost one-third of U.S. traffic-related deaths that year. Other drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, caused 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths. Often, impaired drivers used these drugs in addition to alcohol.
The role drugs and alcohol play in motor vehicle deaths is too large to ignore or brush aside. If someone you love died as a result of impaired driver negligence, you have the right to seek justice. And part of seeking justice involves pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Why You Should Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
Although grief can make pursuing a claim unappealing, you can prevent future deaths by doing so. Every criminal who takes responsibility for his or her actions and works to reform represents one fewer dangerous driver on the roads. You'll also receive compensation for your losses.
For families and dependents of accident victims, the emotional damages are just as real as the financial ones. Although no amount of money can bring back a loved one, you need to realize that pursuing a wrongful death claim helps bring closure and financial comfort to you and any others left behind.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Depending on the state you live in, several people can represent the deceased victim in a wrongful death case. Usually the person in charge of the victim's estate files a claim because this person had a close relationship with the deceased. All states also accept the following plaintiffs:
Spouse of the victim
Parents of killed minors
Minors of killed parents
States differ on whether parents of adult children, adult children of deceased parents, grown siblings, and other extended relatives can file claims. It's most common for the life partner or dependents of the deceased to bring the case forward. Hiring an experienced attorney will help you understand who can and should file the claim to help the success of your case.
How Much Time You Have to File?
Just as with any type of lawsuit, there's a limited amount of time you can file it in. This specific time limit is known as the statute of limitations. States also differ in the specific time periods where plaintiffs may file various claims.
In Florida, you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of death. If you attempt to file after the two year limit, the courts no longer have jurisdiction or authority to punish violators. Florida courts rarely accept a case after the statute of limitations expires.
Often, families of victims who might have filed weren't in any condition to pursue a lawsuit. They may also have put it off while they emotionally or physically recovered. However, it's important to know about the statute of limitations so that you can obtain closure and compensation. Otherwise, you may end up regretting missing the opportunity to file.
What Damages You You Win in a Wrongful Death Claim?
As mentioned above, you'll almost always receive financial compensation as a result of filing a wrongful death claim. This compensation usually comes for specific damages caused by the victim's death. Some common damages include:
Funeral and burial costs
Victim's pain and suffering before death occurred
Medical costs from the accident incurred before victim's death
Loss of the victim's expected income
Loss of inheritance due to the victim's death
Loss of care, nurturing, and guidance from the victim
Loss of the victim's love and companionship
Mental and emotional suffering of the victim's family and loved ones
As you can see, you can win compensation for many kinds of damages in a wrongful death claim. To ensure you'll get the support you need throughout the filing process, consult a qualified attorney to help you win the necessary damages.