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Understanding Wrongful Death and Auto Accidents

By Michael Verna on May 13, 2017

Scene of a car accidentAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), around 33,700 people die in motor vehicle traffic accidents each year. When a loved one perishes in a car accident due to another driver's negligence or a car manufacturer defect, surviving family members may be entitled to financial compensation under a wrongful death claim. Although no amount of money can ease the pain of losing a loved one, it can help ease the burden of medical expenses, lost income, and funeral costs.

Surviving family members who would like more information regarding wrongful death and auto accidents in or around San Francisco, CA, San Jose, CA, or Oakland, CA are encouraged to contact the experienced attorneys of Bowles & Verna, LLP.

Causes of Car Accidents

Car accidents happen every day. Driving conditions, like poor weather or dark roads, can contribute to the risk of car accidents, as can car manufacturer defects. However, more often than not, accidents are caused by another driver's actions, such as:

  • Driving too fast, making unsafe lane changes, or other reckless behaviors
  • Driving while distracted, such as texting or playing with a car's touch screen while driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driver inexperience
  • Driver fatigue

What May Constitute Wrongful Death in Regards to a Car Accident?

Although each state has specific guidelines for wrongful death claims, it is common that surviving family members filing a wrongful death claim for a death caused by a car accident demonstrate that the death occurred due to someone else's negligence or fault. If you have lost a loved one as a result of an auto accident under the circumstances as described below, there may be grounds for a wrongful death claim.

  • The car accident that resulted in the death of a loved one was caused by another driver
  • The driver responsible for the accident acted maliciously, negligently, or wrongfully
  • The car accident resulting in a family members death was caused by a car manufacturer defect

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Each state has its own laws governing wrongful death claims, which is why it's important to seek the assistance of a wrongful death attorney. In many states, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of death and may only be filed by specific family members. Family members who may file a wrongful death claim often include the decedent's:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving children
  • Domestic partner

In some circumstances the decedent's stepchildren or parents may file a wrongful death claim, specifically if such family members were financially supported by the decedent.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim

Damages in an auto accident and wrongful death claim may be sought for financial loss as well as emotional trauma. Damages may include compensation for:

  • Medical expenses incurred in treating the deceased at the time of the accident
  • Funeral and burial expenses 
  • Lost income, both current and future income that the decedent would have earned had he or she lived
  • Loss of the decedent's love, affection, and companionship
  • Emotional suffering
  • Loss of status

Contact the Wrongful Death Attorneys of Bowles & Verna, LLP

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else's recklessness or negligence, you are encouraged to contact the wrongful death attorneys of Bowles & Verna.

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Walnut Creek Office

2121 N California Blvd
Ste 875
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Open Today 8:30am - 6:00pm

More Info Directions (925) 935-3300