The loss of a loved one to a major car accident can be overwhelming. However, you may not have to deal with this situation without help. If a driver was at fault for the loss of your loved one, you could be eligible for financial compensation. This can be used to cover the costs of funeral expenses, car accident damages, and other related expenses. Talk to a Kansas City car accident attorney to learn more about your options.
Steps to Take After the Car Accident
Losing a loved one to a car accident is never easy. You might be able to sue for substantial compensation, whether you were told about the accident or were in the accident itself. Knowing what to do is vital for securing compensation before the statute of limitations runs out. Once the statute of limitations is up, you may not be able to secure the compensation you need.
If you were in a car accident that led to the loss of your loved one, there are important steps to take. Taking these car accident steps is vital for protecting yourself from legal and financial trouble. Many of these steps will help you build a stronger wrongful death claim to increase your chances of compensation.
#1: Move Away From Hazards and Call 911
Move away from hazards such as fires and oncoming traffic. Be cautious about moving if you suspect you may have serious injuries. Call 911 for paramedics and police. You will want a copy of the police report to start building evidence for your claim. In some cases, not having a police report can hurt your claim.
#2: Don't Talk About the Accident
Avoid saying too much about the accident while waiting for emergency services to arrive. Your words can be twisted and used against you. This means, don't apologize, admit fault, or imply guilt to other drivers, passengers, or witnesses in any way. Consider consulting with a lawyer before saying too much to the auto insurance company. Insurance agents sometimes have clients sign away their access to compensation.
#3: Get the Other Driver's Contact Information
Do not leave without writing down the driver’s basic contact information, vehicle model, and auto insurance information before leaving. Without these details, you may not be able to file a car accident claim or wrongful death lawsuit. If the accident involved a hit-and-run and the driver cannot be located, collect as much information as you know. Write down what the driver’s vehicle looked like and what the driver looked like. License plate numbers can also be helpful.
#4: Collect Evidence
Collect as much evidence from the scene of the accident as possible. Take pictures of injuries and vehicle damages, write down what led to the accident, and write down witness contact information. Consider contacting a Kansas City car accident lawyer if you have questions about what other steps to take.
If you were not in a car accident that resulted in the loss of your loved one, the steps you take might be different. Collecting evidence tied to the car accident and loss of your loved one is still important. This might be more challenging if you are not at the scene of the accident. You may have to dig for evidence in the form of police reports, witnesses, and records pointing to what happened.
Common Causes of Car Accident Fatalities
Being aware of the most common causes of car accident fatalities can help with this process. Speeding, drugged driving, and distracted driving are some of the most well-known negligent causes of car accidents. Whether you were in a car accident or found out about the accident, determining how the other driver caused the car accident is vital. This cause must be deemed negligent for you to file a lawsuit.
Examples of Negligence Associated With Car Accidents
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Left turn accidents
- Right-of-way related accidents
- Failing to check blind spots
- Reckless lane changing
How to Sue for Wrongful Death
When it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, you may have this option if you lost your loved one to a car accident. Negligence is vital for a wrongful death claim to work. This means, the other driver must be partially at fault for the car accident that led to the loss of your loved one.
There can be many forms of negligence that range from reckless driving to failing to take proper steps to avoid a collision. Proving that the other driver was partially at fault for the accident can be difficult. A wrongful death lawsuit also requires people to prove a breach of duty, causation, and damages.
Damages can be proven by the evidence collected like pictures, the police report, and other supporting documents like medical records. A death certificate will be needed. An experienced lawyer can help you tie these pieces of evidence together to build a strong wrongful death case. Lawyers are also prepared to defend your case in court.
In terms of who can sue for wrongful death, this varies in different states. The Missouri wrongful death laws state that a spouse, child, or surviving lineal descendants of deceased children can sue. Those children can be adopted or biological. However, if a loved one does not fit into any of these legal definitions, a sibling or their descendants may file a wrongful death claim.
When someone who lost a loved one still does not fall into any of these legal categories, a plaintiff ad litem can be appointed by the court. This process will determine the person who is eligible to receive compensation—someone who is legally entitled to receive such compensation. If you have any questions about how this process works, feel free to reach out to an experienced lawyer for guidance.