Any death can be a tragedy, but when it occurs because of the negligent, reckless or willful conduct of another party, the tragedy is compounded because it could have been avoided. Car accident fatalities are typically tragic because they take the lives of many innocent persons and cost billions in damages.
Car accident fatalities have totaled around 30,000 to 40,000 per year since 1975 though this figure had been declining to under 35,000 since 2009. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the highest total since 1975 was 51,093. They have fallen off since then to a low of 32,479 in 2011. However, 2015 experienced an increase to over 38,000, the largest number in 50 years.
The reasons for the upsurge is based on several factors as reported by the National Safety Council (NSC). An improved economy and cheaper oil prices mean more cars on the roadways and increased opportunities for distracted, intoxicated, inexperienced and just bad overall drivers to cause accidents.
No formula can truly calculate the value of a life. There are numerous factors that attorneys use when trying to argue with an insurance adjuster, defense attorney or before a jury about what a life was worth in monetary terms.
Generally, in a wrongful death case, there are certain damages that the family of the decedent may claim. These include:
In some states, the family can recover damages for the decedent’s pain and suffering, but only if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing. The family’s personal grief and suffering is not an element of damages.
Other than any medical expenses incurred for the decedent’s care before death, if any, proving other economic losses is the job of a forensic economist. The future loss of earnings and other employment benefits is reduced by the economist to present value by use of certain data and formulas and presented to an insurance adjuster or jury for consideration. If the decedent was a student, then the aptitude of the decedent or industry for which the person was intending to enter can be evaluated for the earnings the person could reasonably have expected during their working lifetime.
If the decedent was a child, the jury may deduct the support and education the parents would have provided from the financial contribution the child would be expected to make for the parents. Of course, the parents can certainly be compensated for the considerable loss of love and affection from the child.
The most subjective of damages that may be awarded concern the category of loss of love and affection, etc. To prove these damages, a wrongful death attorney can introduce evidence of the decedent’s character including:
Non-economic damages are an essential aspect of any wrongful death claim. Retain a car accident lawyer who has considerable experience in these types of cases to obtain the most compensation available for your claim.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or lost a loved one in a fatal crash, you need a dedicated team of attorneys and legal professionals fighting for your rights. Our attorneys have a long and proven record of helping the victims of car accidents get the compensation they deserve.
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