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What Should I Do After a Car Wreck Death in Tampa?
Losing a close relative unexpectedly in a car wreck is devastating. After the first shock subsides, you might wonder how to go on without the emotional and financial support from your loved one. While you are trying to get back on your feet, the bills keep coming in. However, if someone else is to blame for your loved one’s accident, you could be entitled to compensation.
If you do not know what you should do after your loved one’s death in a car wreck in Tampa, help is available. Having someone walk you through your legal options can take some of the weight off your shoulders. Morgan & Morgan’s dedicated wrongful death attorneys can fight for what you need to rebuild your life after a tragic accident. Get the process started now by filling in our online form and scheduling a complimentary case review.
Act Fast When A Family Member Dies in a Car Accident
The sudden death of a loved one can turn your entire life upside down in one split second. An unexpected death is always a shock and can cause confusion and helplessness. Moreover, there are many formalities to deal with after a death in the family, such as planning the funeral of your loved one and managing their estate.
Your next best steps after a loved one died in a car accident should include:
- Contacting a wrongful death lawyer to find out about your options
- Collecting evidence of your damages such as receipts and bills
- Requesting a police report of the accident
- Notifying your loved one’s car insurer
The longer you wait with taking action, the harder it can be to prove your case and recover compensation from the at-fault party. Time-sensitive evidence could disappear, and the memories of eyewitnesses might fade.
Grief can be paralyzing. It is normal to need some time to digest what happened. While there is no need to rush into a lawsuit, make sure to protect your legal rights by seeking legal advice. Our compassionate wrongful death lawyers can be here for you and advise you comprehensively.
Accidents Commonly Causing Car Wreck Deaths
While all car accidents can potentially cause fatalities, some are particularly dangerous, including:
Head-on crashes can be deadly, particularly at high speed. Moreover, it can be tricky to determine fault in head-on collisions. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), head-on crashes tend to cause more fatalities than most other types of motor vehicle accidents, despite their relative rarity.
A vehicle can roll over when forced off the road by a negligent or aggressive driver, for example. Rollover accidents are usually serious and can trap or crush car occupants. Cars could also catch fire in a rollover crash. In some instances, a rollover can occur without another driver’s involvement. If a badly maintained road or a vehicle defect is responsible for a rollover and car wreck death, relatives could have legal recourse against a local government entity or a car manufacturer.
T-Bone crashes can cause horrific injuries and fatalities, especially when they occur at high speeds. Unlike in frontal or rear-end accidents, there are no bumpers to cushion the impact, and not all cars have side airbags. T-bone crashes commonly occur due to a negligent or reckless driver failing to yield or running a red light at an intersection.
Negligence and Recklessness Can Cause Fatal Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause significant injuries, disabilities, and in some cases, death. Fatal car accidents can be caused by reckless drivers, negligent manufacturers, and other causes, including but not limited to:
- Aggressive driving and road rage
- Texting while driving and other distractions
- Excessive speeding
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Fault in the design of a road
- Badly maintained roads
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Defective car parts
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error is to blame in most car crashes. However, car defects can also cause deadly accidents and injuries, particularly:
- Defective tires
- Faulty brakes
- Steering defects
- Malfunctioning seat belt or airbags
If another driver or another party caused or contributed to your loved one’s death, you could have a case and pursue compensation.
Car Wreck Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Regardless of whether the victim in a fatal car crash in Tampa died at the accident scene or days, weeks, or even months later, surviving relatives may be entitled to compensation. According to Florida law, to qualify for a lawsuit, a wrongful death must be brought about by negligence, a wrongful act, or by default. Plaintiffs, those bringing the lawsuit, will have to prove that had the victim survived the accident, they would have been entitled to damages.
A wrongful death lawsuit in Florida is typically filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, representing close family members, such as a spouse or child of the deceased. However, you need to act fast as the time limit for filing a wrongful death case in Florida is generally only two years from the death of the victim. Waiting too long could disqualify you from filing suit and recovering damages.
Finding a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death claims can be complex and highly contested since they can involve large amounts of damages. Therefore, it is vital that you work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who has handled similar cases before and has a successful track record. Morgan & Morgan’s tenacious lawyers have handled countless wrongful death lawsuits and recovered settlements for the families of fatally injured individuals.
Filing the Wrongful Death Claim
Once an attorney takes your case, they will begin by thoroughly investigating the facts of the accident. This investigation typically involves determining liability and identifying all responsible parties in your case. Your wrongful death lawyer will also tally up medical bills, funeral expenses, and all other damages that occurred due to the fatal accident.
Your attorney will then go ahead and officially notify the responsible parties for the accident of the intent to file suit. This notification generally includes sending a settlement demand to the applicable insurance company. The other party commonly responds to an attorney’s demand letter with a settlement offer or a denial, and negotiations can begin. If a fair out-of-court settlement cannot be reached with the responsible party or parties, your attorney can take the case to trial and fight for your due in court.
Damages You Could Receive with a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Damages resulting from a car wreck death lawsuit will depend on your individual case but can include awards for:
- Medical costs before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The decedent’s pain and suffering before death
- Loss of the decedent’s income and future income
- Loss of companionship
However, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can also include benefits the survivors would have received from the deceased had they not died, which can potentially far exceed the worth of their income alone. Benefits you could be compensated for in a lawsuit could include:
- Housework and yard work
- Caring for an elderly relative
- Vehicle maintenance
- Medical and dental benefits
- Entertainment and vacation
A wrongful death attorney from our firm can assess your damages and determine the approximate value of your case.
Morgan & Morgan FAQs
Are There Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If your relative died in a car wreck in Tampa, there is a time limit to file a wrongful death lawsuit. According to Florida statutes section 95.11, suits should be filed within two years from the victim’s date of death. While there can be exceptions in rare cases, you could lose your right to compensation if you do not file a lawsuit in time.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
Close family members of the deceased are usually entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, including:
- A spouse
- Minor children
- Adult children
- A parent of a deceased child
- An individual who paid the decedent’s medical or funeral expenses
Depending on your specific case, others could be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Consider discussing your case with one of our experienced wrongful death lawyers to find out more.
Who Pays for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The at-fault party or parties responsible for the accident that killed your loved one are generally also liable for your damages. However, in practice, this usually means that their insurance company provides a settlement to the family of the deceased victim. In some cases, particularly when an at-fault party was uninsured or underinsured, they could be personally liable for compensating you.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes on a Wrongful Death Settlement?
According to the IRS, compensation from wrongful death lawsuits is usually excluded from gross income. Therefore, survivors receiving a settlement generally do not have to pay income tax on the settlement amount. However, this does not necessarily mean that your settlement is entirely tax-free. If a wrongful death settlement is included in the overall estate and takes the value of the estate above the statutory exemption amount, you may have to pay inheritance tax.
How Long Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Take?
No two wrongful death cases are the same. Therefore, it can be challenging to estimate how long your specific case could take. Some wrongful death claims resolve in a matter of a few months, while others can potentially drag on in the courts for years. Some of the factors influencing the length of a wrongful death suit can include:
- Whether liability is contested or clear
- An insurance company denying or minimizing a claim
- The amount of compensation requested
- The number of defendants
Generally, the fastest way to resolve a wrongful death claim is with an out-of-court settlement. Cases could also come to a quick conclusion when there are only moderate damages, one defendant, and the fault for the accident is clearly established. However, if a large settlement amount is at stake, liability is hotly contested, and an insurance company is dragging its heels, a wrongful death case can potentially take a year and much longer.
How Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Help Me?
If you are unsure about what you should do after a death from a car wreck in Tampa, contacting a wrongful death attorney can be an excellent way to protect your legal rights and those of your family. Morgan & Morgan’s experienced attorneys can help you build and prove your case by:
- Investigating the accident scene
- Interviewing witnesses
- Gathering evidence such as traffic camera footage
- Obtaining police reports
- Hiring expert witnesses and accident reconstruction experts
A wrongful death attorney can do much more for you. They can deal with all the legal aspects of your case, including filing the relevant paperwork and representing your case in the strongest possible terms in the courtroom.
Most importantly, perhaps, a compassionate wrongful death attorney from our firm can take the weight off your shoulders during an upsetting and challenging time. Losing a loved one unexpectedly in a car accident is a terrible ordeal. You should not have to fight on your own to get what you and your family deserve.
Get Help from Morgan & Morgan Today
While we understand that nothing can make up for the loss of your beloved relative, our attorneys are committed to helping families of car wreck victims avert financial hardship resulting from a loved one’s death. Handling a wrongful death lawsuit on your own can be tough and complicated. Let us deal with the legal process so you can take time to grieve, heal, and be with your loved ones during this challenging time.
If you do not know what you should do after a relative’s death in a car wreck in Tampa, let us help. The sudden death of a relative in a car wreck is severely distressing. You deserve support and assistance. Our wrongful death attorneys can advise you with the compassion and personal attention you deserve. When we take your case, you pay nothing unless and until we win and you recover compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to find out if you have a case.