Operating a motor vehicle far over the speed limit can lead to serious collisions and injuries. In some accidents, these collisions are so bad that they result in an accident victim’s untimely death.
Throughout Canada, speeding and other road-rule violations were factors in approximately 1,922 motor vehicle fatalities in one recent year. The saddest part about this statistic is that all of these fatalities were preventable, had a driver simply paid attention to their speed and operated their vehicle safely and carefully.
Losing a loved one is never easy. The burden becomes even more difficult to bear when the death occurs because of someone else’s preventable negligence. If you suffered personal injuries or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident that resulted from negligence, you have legal options that are available to you. If your loved one died as a result of their accident-related injuries, you might be in a position to open a wrongful death claim or file a wrongful death lawsuit in the court system.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can discuss the circumstances of the accident with you and help you decide on the best way to proceed forward. Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation available to your deceased loved one’s estate—either by settling the case favorably or litigating the case to a conclusion in the court system. It is always best to have an accident lawyer on your side.
What Kinds of Accidents Can Result from Speeding?
When motor vehicle operators exceed the posted speed limit, they can bring about serious collisions. These collisions can lead to injuries and, in some cases, fatalities.
Speeding can result in:
- Rear-end Collisions – When a motor vehicle operator violates the speed limit, they can lose control over their vehicle and bring about a collision with a vehicle in front of them. Moreover, the speeding driver might be unable to slow their vehicle down in time to avoid a collision. These rear-end accidents can lead to whiplash injuries and other soft tissue injuries, but they can lead to one or more fatalities in some cases. This is especially common when a young child or infant is in a rear-end crash.
- T-bone Accidents – A T-bone accident—or broadside collision—happens when the front of the motor vehicle strikes the side of a vehicle moving in an adjacent direction. While these accidents can occur just about anywhere, they are especially common at traffic intersections, where a driver is trying to beat a red light. A driver may speed through the intersection as a light turns red or shortly after that, bringing about a collision with a vehicle going in a different direction. The impact force from a broadside collision might cause the vehicle on the receiving end to overturn or spin around, bringing about injuries and sometimes fatalities.
- Head-on Collisions – One final type of collision that results from a speeding driver is called a head-on collision. A head-on collision happens when the fronts of two vehicles collide with one another. These accidents are common on dual highways where there is one lane of travel in each direction, separated by a median strip or double line. A speeding driver might lose control of their vehicle and cross the centerline, striking an oncoming vehicle head-on. The force of the impact in these accidents might eject a driver or passenger’s body from the vehicle, bringing about a fatality.
If you lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident that resulted from a speeding driver, you can assert a wrongful death claim for damages. A car accident lawyer near you can determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of your deceased loved one.
Your lawyer can then help you file the claim and negotiate a favourable settlement offer. If litigation becomes necessary in your wrongful death claim, your lawyer can help you throughout every step of the process.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim and Who Proves It?
A surviving family member or personal representative of a deceased individual’s estate can file a wrongful death claim under certain circumstances. Specifically, a wrongful death claim arises when a person dies due to the wrongful act or omission of someone else. Therefore, when an accident victim suffers a fatal injury in a car accident because of speeding or some other road-rule violation, a wrongful death claim may become an option.
In a wrongful death claim, the claimant—usually the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate—has the legal burden of proof. Therefore, they need to satisfy all of the legal elements of the wrongful death claim. The elements of proof in a wrongful death claim are similar to those in a standard personal injury claim or lawsuit.
First, the claimant must establish that the at-fault driver did something wrong. This typically means that they were speeding, violating some other rule of the road, or otherwise deviating from the prevailing standard of care for motor vehicle drivers. In addition, the claimant must show that the accident happened as a result of this breach. Finally, the claimant must demonstrate that their loved one died from the injuries they sustained in the car accident, which resulted from negligent driving.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence, a compassionate car accident lawyer can help you satisfy the legal burden of proof in your claim. Your wrongful death lawyer can help you set up the claim with the insurance company, work to negotiate a favourable settlement, or, if necessary, litigate the case to a conclusion in court.
Preparing and Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The steps for preparing and filing a wrongful death claim are much the same as in a personal injury case that does not involve a fatality. In many wrongful death claims, the claimant is the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate. The lawyer for the estate will gather up the accident victim’s medical records, death certificate, police report, photographs of injuries, and photographs of property damage.
The lawyer will then submit all of this information to the insurance company adjuster for review. In addition to these documents, the lawyer will include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement within the insurance policy limits.
Once the insurance company adjuster receives this demand package, they will review the contents, and they may make an offer to resolve the case with the claimant through settlement. Wrongful death claims can be difficult to prove since the deceased individual is no longer available to testify in the case.
However, the insurance company usually has significantly more compensation on the table than the amount they represent as their initial offer. Therefore, the claimant’s lawyer will need to negotiate with the adjuster one or more times to get a better offer to resolve the case. If the case does not resolve through the settlement process, the claimant’s lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system that seeks wrongful death damages.
Even after a lawyer files a wrongful death lawsuit in court, the parties can continue negotiating. However, the case will become subject to various court deadlines, including discovery document production, a settlement conference date and possibly a trial date. During litigation, the parties may exchange documents and answers to written questions, called interrogatories. If the case does not settle at the settlement conference, the parties can take the case to a trial.
Because it can be difficult to prove damages at trial in a wrongful death case, the parties are usually better off to resolve the case through settlement if the claimant can obtain a favourable number from the insurance company. A car accident lawyer can help you determine whether you should accept a settlement offer from the insurance company or litigate your case to a conclusion in a court system. Either way, your lawyer can assist throughout the process and zealously advocate for the estate’s interests.
Potential Monetary Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Losing a loved one in a car accident that resulted from speeding or some other type of negligence can be extremely difficult. Although monetary compensation or damages cannot replace a loved one, it can help bring the surviving family members a sense of justice and closure. The wrongful death damages that an estate can recover depend upon numerous circumstances, including the extent of the deceased individual’s injuries and the extent they suffered from their injuries before their untimely death, among other factors. To be eligible to recover wrongful death damages, a claimant must demonstrate all of the legal elements of the wrongful death case.
First of all, the estate can pursue monetary recovery for the deceased individual’s funeral expenses and burial costs. In addition, the estate can pursue monetary recovery for pre-accident fright and the pain and suffering that the deceased individual endured between the time of the accident and the time of their death.
The estate can also pursue compensation for the loss of the deceased individual’s companionship and care that they lost due to their untimely death. Finally, the estate can claim loss of future income if surviving family members depended on the deceased.
A claimant can recover punitive damages as part of a wrongful death claim in some instances. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the at-fault driver and to discourage other drivers from committing similar wrongful acts in the future. For example, punitive damages might be available in a case where the driver was operating their vehicle far over the speed limit, such as in rush-hour traffic, or where the driver committed some other extremely reckless or egregious act.
Pursuing wrongful death damages can sometimes be an uphill battle, and you can be sure that the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not going to do you any favours. In fact, they will do everything they possibly can to offer as little money as possible to satisfy the claim.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you combat the insurance company’s efforts in that regard and work to recover the maximum amount of compensation available to the deceased individual’s estate. Your lawyer will aggressively fight for favourable settlement compensation on the estate’s behalf, and if litigation becomes necessary, pursue the monetary recovery that the estate deserves to obtain in court.
Speak With a Compassionate Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
Losing a loved one in a car accident that resulted from another person’s carelessness and negligence is one of the most challenging and hurtful things that a family can experience. Moreover, many individuals and families are unsure of what they should do next or where to turn for answers to their legal questions.
If a person you love has suffered a fatal injury in a car accident, you must speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you open a wrongful death claim with the insurance company as quickly as possible and work to obtain a settlement that fairly compensates the deceased individual’s estate. Suppose the insurance company refuses to make you a fair settlement offer. In that case, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system and litigate your case to a favorable conclusion.
Although money is a poor substitute for a lost loved one, it can help to bring a sense of justice and closure for you and your family. You can move forward with less financial concern and knowing the liable parties were accountable.