A semi-truck driver crashed into another semi-truck taking the life of a 45-year-old woman. According to an Indiana State master trooper, the accident happened around noon, Saturday, March 16, 2019, in the westbound lanes on Interstate 70 near mile-marker 17, which is about 15 miles east of Terre Haute.
The driver took his eyes off the road to pick up a dropped sandwich not seeing that the cars in front of him had slowed down. He swerved to avoid hitting another semi-truck puncturing its fuel tank causing it to catch fire. The semi-truck continued off the road before coming to a stop in the median. A passenger of his was found dead in the semi-truck’s sleeper berth.
Another passenger in the sleeper berth of the semi that caught fire was taken to a local hospital for injuries sustained in the crash.
Car crashes cause injuries and unfortunately deaths. Each year, around 35,000 people die in auto accidents on the nation’s highways and streets. Though this number is coming down from 50,000 in the 1970’s, it still represents a lot of anguish and grief for the loved-ones of the deceased person.
What to do When a Loved-One is Killed in an Auto Accident
Anytime a loved family member dies, it’s devastating for those left behind. This is especially true in an auto accident that was caused by someone’s negligent actions. The hurt and anger that happens with the knowledge that it could have been prevented can be frustrating and overwhelming. Though it may be small comfort at the time, there are legal steps to take that will address the wrong committed by the person at-fault.
The law allows the family members of a deceased person to file a claim for negligence against the person who caused the accident.
Wrongful Death Claim
The surviving members of a family can file a wrongful death claim which is based on the negligence of the driver of the vehicle that caused the death. To make a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must show that the death was the direct result of that driver’s negligent actions (or in some cases, inaction). To prove negligence, it must be proved that the at-fault person failed to act the same way a reasonable person would in the same circumstances and those actions were without regard to the safety of others.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In a typical injury accident, the person who files the claim is the one who was injured by the other person’s negligence. If the injured was a minor, then the parents or legal guardians would need to file the claim.
However, when the victim dies, he or she can’t file a claim, so the law allows the estate of the deceased to file a claim. Usually this is the executor of the estate which is either named in a will and last testament or appointed by a court. The executor becomes a representative of all those who have a legal claim for damages based on the relationship with the deceased which is usually limited to family members like spouses, children, parents, siblings.
What Types of Damages can a Surviving Family Member Claim?
In any personal injury lawsuit, those who file can claim monetary damages for their losses. This is also true in a wrongful death claim, except that the estate representative will file for all those family members with legal claims against the other party.
Some of the damages one can claim in a wrongful death claim are:
- Medical Bills (If the person was treated for the accident before passing)
- Burial/Funeral Expenses
- Loss of Consortium (Limited to spouses who lose companionship and intimacy from the deceased)
- Loss of Financial Support (Spouse, minor children who relied on the deceased for financial support)
- Mental Anguish (Depending on the circumstances, a claim can be made for the mental anguish and distress caused by the death)
These are some of the claims for damages that can be made. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can help the survivors determine all types of damages that can be claimed.
Speak with a Wrongful Death Attorney at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC
As a personal injury law firm, we at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC are prepared to handle a wide variety of cases in which someone has been harmed or died due to another’s negligence. In the case of wrongful death, we understand how incredibly difficult it can be to pursue legal action while still grieving the loss of a loved one.
Wrongful death lawsuits are complex, time-sensitive matters that can’t be put off for long – instead of trying to navigate this legal route alone, let us help. With decades of combined legal experience, we are prepared to sensitively and competently address your concerns and guide you through every aspect of the process.