All too often a car wreck ends somebody’s life. The consequences are tragic. Losing a loved one creates a big hole in the family dynamic. Relationships have to be reformed within the family unit. There is no chance to say goodbye. There are no more memories to be made. There are only memories of the past. Grief sets in. Folks can blame themselves for what happened. It’s never easy when a loved one dies unexpectedly.
Many car crashes are caused by one of three acts of negligence. 1. Driver fatigue; 2. Driver inattention; 3. Drugs and Alcohol. Certainly deaths are caused by speeding, failing to yield, being on the wrong side of the road, and other acts. The precipitating cause giving rise to the wreck usually starts with any one or more of being tired, cell phones or texting, or chemical impairment mentioned above.
It is natural, that when somebody dies, the grieving family wants to make somebody pay for causing the death. Most states require drivers to have insurance to cover wrongful death damages.
In many states there are several classes of persons who can bring a wrongful death claim. One class includes the parents, the spouse and the children of the deceased. If the deceased has children that also are dead, the lineal descendants of the deceased fall under class one folks who can make the wrongful death claim.
Some states only permit the estate to bring the claim for wrongful death.
Other states may include siblings or grandparents.
Every state has different laws outlining who is eligible to bring the wrongful death claim. It is important to check your state law to determine if you are in the circle of eligible parties who may bring the wrongful death claim.
Every state also has different statutes of limitations. Depending on the state, the wrongful claimant may have anywhere between 1-5 years to bring the claim before the statute of limitations prevents the claim from going forward.
This is meant to be a very brief primer on who can bring the claim. If you have lost a loved one through somebody else’s negligent actions, you should consult with a lawyer to find out your rights and time limits for filing the wrongful death claim.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Wolff Trial Lawyers for their insight into wrongful death claims.