Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing your partner unexpectedly. Individuals whose spouses die in car crashes often find it difficult to cope with the emotional and financial fallout. If your loved one died in a fatal car accident, you may be wondering if you have legal recourse. While you know that nothing will bring your husband or wife back to you, you may think someone should pay. You’ll find that the law agrees with you. However, you must prove that someone else was responsible for the accident. If another driver or a third party was reckless or negligent, they can be held liable. You will need to seek representation from an attorney that handles fatal crashes to pursue a wrongful death claim.
What is Wrongful Death?
A road fatality is considered a wrongful death is a driver’s negligence or recklessness caused someone to die. It doesn’t matter whether they didn’t intend to kill anyone, or the action wasn’t premeditated. A wrongful death claim helps to relieve the financial burden survivors face following the unexpected loss of a loved one. As the spouse of an accident victim, you can take civil action to recover monetary compensation. You can do this even if the driver is facing criminal charges for driving under the influence or reckless driving. Criminal charges are completely separate from civil lawsuits. Any fines imposed by the criminal courts will not benefit you and your family.
Damages You Can Seek after a Fatal Car Accident
When you lose your spouse in a fatal car accident, you’ll experience considerable grief. Seeking counsel from an impartial, experienced attorney can help you to get through this time. Dealing with insurance companies and the law courts will seem overwhelming on top of everything else you’ll need to handle. When you have reliable legal representation, you’ll find it a little easier to cope.
There are two different types of claims you can pursue in a case of wrongful death. The first relates to death-related losses like medical expenses, burial costs and your spouse’s pain and suffering before they died. You can also seek compensation for the value of your spouse’s life. This includes lost income and benefits and loss of companionship and consortium. Your Atlanta car crash attorney will help you to attribute a dollar value to each of these losses.
Building a Successful Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death claims are legally quite similar to personal injury claims. In fact, they usually result from incidents that would have triggered a personal injury case had the victim lived. Therefore, survivors must prove the same elements of negligence in order to recover damages. With the help of your attorney, you will need to show that:
- The defendant had a duty of care to your spouse.
- They breached that duty of care through their negligent or reckless behavior.
- That behavior was a direct cause of your spouse’s death.
- The losses can be quantified, and the defendant should pay that amount.
If you intend to pursue a wrongful death claim, you need to keep Georgia’s statute of limitations in mind. In most cases, you have two years from the date of your spouse’s death to file a lawsuit. If you don’t file your claim within that time, the court will bar you from doing so. While it may seem like two years is a long time, building a successful case takes time. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible so they can begin working on your case.
Reach Out to the The Bethune Law Firm after a Fatal Car Accident
If your spouse died because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file a wrongful death claim. However, you won’t be able to do it on your own. It’s best that you focus on managing your grief and handling your affairs while your lawyer fights for you. At the Bethune Law Firm, we provide a free initial consultation with a Georgia auto accident lawyer. It won’t cost you anything to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer and learn about your family’s rights.
Every wrongful death case has unique characteristics so it’s important to get advice on your specific situation. We know that this will be a difficult time for you. Even under less trying circumstances, legal issues are complex. However, our attorneys will be sensitive to your emotions even as we fight to get justice on your behalf. Contact our accident injury law firm in Atlanta, Georgia to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you.