In the aftermath of a devastating car accident, one of the top concerns that weighs on the minds of those involved is the matter of compensation. If you suffer pain, injuries or loss due to the negligence of another driver, then you deserve a fair settlement – all the more so if the crash results in the death of a loved one.
At Cellino Law, we offer risk-free consultation to individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of catastrophic vehicle collisions. We can help you understand how much compensation you rightfully deserve and navigate the circumstances that might make your settlement higher after a fatal car accident.
Defining a Fatal Car Accident
Filing a claim after a motor vehicle accident is a complex process regardless of the severity. There are a number of factors that can determine how much you deserve in recoverable damages. Your car accident lawyer can provide guidance in evaluating these factors, starting with defining what legally constitutes a fatal car accident.
Any vehicle collision resulting in the death of a victim at the scene is a clear example of a fatal car accident. An accident is also fatal if it causes injuries that ultimately culminate in a person’s death soon afterward, typically within 30 days.
There is potential for fatal car accidents to have much higher settlements because of the severity of damage caused, the value of human life and the suffering of grieving families. Receiving the maximum amount of compensation possible may require negotiating with the insurance company and providing evidence that the accident was fatal. Your legal team can support you and advocate for you at every step of this process.
The first step in securing your rightful settlement after a fatal car accident is to file a wrongful death claim. Involving an attorney early on in the claims process will ensure you have the right expertise in your corner.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death refers to the passing of a loved one due to the negligence or malicious intent of another party. In the case of a fatal car accident, it is important to keep in mind that all motorists on the road owe a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. Anyone who causes the death of another by violating traffic laws or driving recklessly is breaching that duty of care and may be subject to a wrongful death claim.
When you file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident, any compensation you receive will likely come from the at-fault party’s auto insurance policy. If the insurance company accepts your claim, they may offer you a settlement. If they deny your claim or offer a lowball settlement amount, your lawyer can help you secure what you deserve either by negotiating with the insurer or by taking the matter to trial.
Keep in mind, though, that New York state law limits who can file a wrongful death claim to children, parents or a spouse of the deceased, as well as any representatives of the estate. There is also a statute of limitations of two years following the date of death, after which no family member may pursue legal action for a wrongful death.
Factors That Affect Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts
Wrongful death settlement amounts can vary widely based on the unique circumstances of an accident. Factors that can affect these amounts include lost wages based on the deceased’s income-earning capacity, the type of insurance coverage at play, liability factors, pain and suffering and funeral expenses.
If the deceased received medical care for their car accident injuries before passing, your family might also be eligible for compensation for the associated medical expenses such as:
- The type of care received
- Amount of time in the hospital
- Transportation to the hospital
- Any surgery or long-term care treatments
Thorough documentation can strengthen your wrongful death case. It is important to maintain comprehensive records of any medical treatments and to document the scene of the accident with photographs and witness statements if possible.
Types of Recoverable Damages in Fatal Car Accidents
One key point to consider after a fatal car accident is that the damages you can recover come in various categories. There are several types of recoverable damages, and receiving your maximum compensation might entail proving the existence of damages owed to you. Your attorney can help you evaluate these damages and do the heavy lifting when it comes to compiling and presenting evidence. Bear in mind that the law separates recoverable damages into those that are economic and others that are non-economic.
Economic damages refer to losses that are material in nature and therefore have clear and measurable financial value. Common economic damages in fatal car accidents include:
- Lost wages
- Vehicle repairs
- Other property damage
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
Keeping track of medical records, taking photographs of property damage and requesting quotes from auto repair professionals are all examples of things you can do to illustrate the value of economic damages when negotiating with the insurance company.
Non-economic damages are those pertaining to emotional or mental damage as well as to future difficulties, making them difficult to calculate but no less relevant in your wrongful death claim. Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental or emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship
Other conditions that qualify as examples of pain and suffering include anxiety, depression, inability to participate in certain activities or a lowered quality of life.
Average Settlement Amounts for Car Accidents
The Insurance Information Institute reports that the average compensation for bodily injuries in car accidents at $18,417. However, New York state law requires a minimum limit of auto insurance liability coverage of $50,000 for any injury resulting in death, sustained by any one person in any one accident. This means you can expect up to that much compensation in your wrongful death claim, or possibly more based on the other party’s insurance policy.
While every case is different based on the circumstances, severity of damage, number of people involved and other unique factors, it is often the case that settlement amounts are higher in fatal car accidents compared to those that result in damage or injury without death.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
When a fatal car accident results in the tragic death of a loved one, you have enough to worry about without the added stress of trying to secure your rightful settlement from the insurance company. By contacting a car accident attorney early on in the process, you can take the time you need to mourn and recover without worrying.
Our team at Cellino Law can assume much of the burden throughout your wrongful death claim by:
- Helping you file your wrongful death claim
- Negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf
- Evaluating your recoverable damages
- Collecting and presenting evidence for your case
- Supporting you every step of the way
Having the experience and expertise of a car accident attorney on your side not only removes the burden of presenting your case from your shoulders but also helps ensure that insurance providers cannot take advantage of you during a vulnerable time.
Contact Cellino Law Today for a Free Consultation
Every car accident is unique, but there is a strong possibility for settlements to be higher in fatal car accidents. Even so, seeking the full amount of compensation you deserve from the insurance company can be a difficult process. Call Cellino Law today at (800)555-5555 or contact us online for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you reach a favorable outcome in an unfortunate time.
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