When a loved one has been killed in a car accident, the family may file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, it’s important to understand how the type of vehicle involved in the crash could impact the case.
Type of Vehicles Involved in Fatal Traffic Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012 there were 339 traffic fatalities in West Virginia.
The following indicates the type of vehicles involved in fatal crashes:
- passenger car – 141;
- light truck (pickup) – 47;
- light truck (utility) – 41;
- motorcycles – 31;
- light truck (van) – 13; and
- large truck – 5.
How the Type of Vehicle Impacts a Fatal Car Accident Case
Most fatal crashes involve passenger cars. When a loved one has been killed in this type of accident, the family could file a wrongful death claim against the other driver. This requires sufficient proof that his/her negligence caused the accident. The same is true for most other types of vehicles—pickups, utility trucks, vans and motorcycles.
However, if the fatal accident involved a large truck it would be handled differently. It’s possible to not only hold the truck driver liable—again, if surviving family can prove the trucker was at fault—but the employer (motor carrier company) may be liable as well. In fact, a wrongful death claim would be filed with the trucking company.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim after a Fatal Car Accident
Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate is entitled to bring forth a wrongful death action. This individual (who may or may not be a relative) is appointed by the courts.
Damages are awarded according to what is fair and just. Those entitled to recover damages may include the spouse, children (step, adopted), siblings, parents and others who may have been financially dependent on the deceased.
The following are examples of the types of damages available in a wrongful death claim:
- anguish, solace and sorrow (companionship, guidance, comfort);
- loss of the deceased’s income;
- care, assistance, services and protection by the deceased;
- medical expenses related to the accident; and
- reasonable funeral expenses.
The timeframe in which a wrongful death claim can be filed in West Virginia is two years from the date of death. So even if the accident occurred on May 1 and the person was hospitalized for several months before passing on July 1, it would still be two years from July 1.
Importance of Contacting an Attorney after a Fatal Car Accident
When it comes down to it, the type of vehicle may not have much relevance to the family who has lost someone they love. But at the same time, certain types of accidents can result in different outcomes. For instance, there may be more complications involved in filing a claim against a trucking company if its driver caused the accident.
But wrongful death cases in general are oftentimes complex. Whether it was a passenger car that ran a red light at an intersection or a semi that rear ended a vehicle on Highway 50 in Clarksburg, it’s important that the surviving family fully understands their options.
Don’t delay in seeking legal advice. An attorney can help determine the validity of a case and provide assistance with handling the paperwork and collecting the evidence that will be necessary to prove the other party’s negligence. Call The Miley Legal Group today at (304) 931-4088 to set up a consultation and get started.