We all know death is a natural part of the circle of life, but it's never easy to lose someone you love. This is especially true when a loved one is taken away from you suddenly due to someone else's actions or negligence; it's genuinely heartbreaking because it didn't have to be that way.
It's difficult to accept a loved one's death due to someone's careless negligence. Right now, you may be in the middle of the stages of grief. Part of your healing process is wanting the wrongdoer to be held accountable and you are looking for answers. "Where can I find more information on accidental death compensation?" is likely one of your questions, and we're here to help with that.
Who pays in an accidental death suit?
The party that is liable for your loved one's death pays in a successful accidental death lawsuit. Hopefully, they have insurance, but if not, they are personally responsible for paying the damages you are awarded. If they have insurance, their insurance policy will cover monetary damages like medical care, funeral expenses, and loss of financial support. If they do not have insurance, you can sue the person for their assets, but this comes with its own set of difficulties. Likewise, their policy may not be comprehensive enough to cover all the damages when going after their insurance company. This might be the case, particularly if your loved one had to receive a great deal of medical care before they died.
How much compensation do you get for accidental death?
The average accidental death settlement is about $500,000. Your unique case could be more or less depending on the circumstances. The goal of an accidental death settlement is to place a dollar figure on the loss of companionship, income, and life of your loved one. While it may sound harsh to place a monetary value on a person's life and the comfort they provided to their family, it is simply a means to receive some sort of justice and a sense of closure for the careless and reckless actions of another.
Who benefits from an accidental death suit?
An accidental death claim is filed by the estate of the deceased, so the estate receives compensation for damages. The recovered money is then paid out to the deceased's beneficiaries. Compensation particularly goes to those who suffered financially from the loss, which is typically the deceased's spouse and children. Once compensation has been recovered to the estate, the award will be distributed according to the deceased's will.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
Generally, the pursuit of wrongful death claims is reserved for the deceased's immediate family, but this varies by state. In the US, there are two systems that govern wrongful death statutes. The majority have enacted laws concerning wrongful death informed by Lord Campbell's Act. This concept stems from the British Parliament.
US statutes that are based on Lord Campbell's Act state that a designated beneficiary may only bring wrongful death claims. Beneficiaries are typically immediate family members. However, suppose there are no surviving immediate family members. In that case, distant family members like grandparents or siblings could bring a claim. If none of that class is surviving, a domestic or a life partner could bring a wrongful death claim. If none exists, then any financial dependents that suffered financially from the decedent's demise could file. If none exist, then a claim for wrongful death cannot be filed.
The other system is the Loss-to-Estate system. Under this system, only the decedent's estate can file a wrongful death claim. The person to file is typically an executor or personal representative of the estate assigned by the probate courts. This person essentially files on behalf of the beneficiaries. Any award is under a special trust that will be disbursed to designated beneficiaries.
If you're still wondering, "where can I find more information regarding accidental death compensation" and aren't sure if you're entitled to file a claim, one of our wrongful death attorneys can advise you.
What are some examples of accidental death?
Although an accidental death can occur under many factors and in many different situations, some accidental deaths are more common than others. Here are some of the leading causes of accidental death in the US.
Car accidents: Because car travel is such a prevalent part of our daily lives, car crashes are a significant cause of fatalities. According to the US Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there were 36,096 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the year 2019. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are caused by the negligence of at least one driver. They may have been speeding, driving under the influence, or not paying attention to the road because they were texting. Under the circumstances like these, that driver could be held liable for your loved one's accidental death. Suppose the car accident was caused by hazardous road conditions, like poorly maintained roads. That situation could have been avoided. In that case, the city or county could be held liable.
Medical Malpractice: While medical professionals and medical facilities are widely competent in their treatment of patients, sometimes mistakes happen. If an error like a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose caused the death of your loved one, the individual or entity responsible could be held liable. Depending on what occurred, doctors, nurses, medical staff, or even administrators could be accountable for an accidental death claim.
Work accidents: Some occupations are more hazardous than others. Ironworkers, truckers, roofers, fishers, and loggers have some of the most dangerous jobs. Still, even a job as seemingly safe as a grocery store stocker can be deadly if someone is negligent. According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 5,333 workplace fatalities in the year 2019. OSHA reports that frequently violated standards include things like fall and scaffolding protection in the construction industry, control of hazardous energy, and machinery and machine guarding.
Accidents caused by work aren't always at the workplace. For instance, if a worker is forced to work an extraordinarily long shift and dies after falling asleep at the wheel due to exhaustion, the employer could still be held liable for creating a dangerous situation.
Defective Products: Manufacturers and designers of products have a duty to make sure their products are safe for consumers to use or consume. Some defective product examples are faulty automobile parts that cause injury or death, toxic foods, defective medicines, or unsafe products that are intended for children.
One notable defective product lawsuit was filed against GM for faulty ignition switches that caused the engine to shut off while in motion, which prevented airbags from deploying in the event of a crash. One hundred twenty-four deaths were tied to this defective product. GM had to pay out $870 million to families who lost someone and to those who suffered injuries.
Semi-truck accidents: While semi-truck accidents are still regarded as automobile accidents, semi-truck accidents deserve their own category based on the severity of the results. The massive size of these vehicles, more often than not, causes fatalities. The other difference is that the cause of these accidents is sometimes due to oversize loads and mechanical failures that are different from car accidents.
Pedestrian accidents: When pedestrians are hit by a vehicle, they are more likely to die than passengers in a car. In most cases, the accident is due to driver negligence because they may have been speeding or ignoring traffic signals. While less common, the accidental death of a pedestrian could be the result of poorly maintained or marked roads. In this instance, the city or county could be held liable.
How to file an accidental death lawsuit
The first thing to do if you believe your loved one died because of someone's negligence is to determine if you have the authority to pursue a claim. The accidental death attorneys at Morgan & Morgan understand the laws that govern your state and will be able to tell you if you are eligible to take civil action.
After determining eligibility, the next step is to file documents with the courts to start a civil lawsuit. The first document to be filed is a complaint or petition. This document provides the defendant the groundwork for the case. Next is to file a summons. This document puts the defendant on notice concerning the proceedings.
After the lawsuit's initial filing, all documentation must be given to the defendant(s). This is called service of process and is an official notice of the legal action. In comparison, it's possible for an individual to do this independently and without legal counsel. Still, it's not advisable because the stakes are high. The law has many pitfalls and nuances that a layperson may not be able to navigate.
Where can I find more information on accidental death compensation?
You've done your due diligence on researching more information on accidental death compensation. If you're ready to talk to an accidental death attorney, we are here to help provide further answers to your questions. You may be curious about how to prove wrongful death and are interested in your chances of winning. While most accidental death cases settle out of court, it's crucial to retain the services of an attorney who is willing to take your case to trial if needed.
Morgan & Morgan has an outstanding reputation for winning settlements and verdicts for accidental death victims. Over the last 30-years, our law firm has recovered billions for our clients. Personal injury law is the foundation of our company, and we've grown to be one of the biggest law firms in the country by fighting for the rights of everyday people just like yourself.
If you're ready to fight for the rights of your family and be compensated for the accidental death of your loved one, we are ready to fight along with you. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us for your free, no-risk case evaluation today.