FAQ: Can I sue if a family member is killed in a vehicular accident?

You have lost your family member in a fatal car accident. What can you do after your loved passes to hold the right parties responsible? Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a lawsuit, known as a wrongful death suit, on your family member’s behalf.

For you to be able to sue the responsible party for wrongful death, several requirements must be satisfied. Each state has its own rules, or statutes, on when a wrongful death suit can be filed, who can sue, and what can be categorized as wrongful death. You should consult a wrongful death lawyer for help with your case and the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call (314) 480-3100 today to speak to the Hayden Law Firm about your case for free.

What Makes a Car Accident a Wrongful Death

Car accidents are among the leading types of wrongful death cases in the United States. With that in mind, however, not every car accident can be considered a wrongful death case.

In order for the car accident to be seen as a wrongful death case and for you to have a legitimate case to sue, there must be a person who loses their life because of the negligent actions of another. In a car accident death, it is whatever the other driver did wrong, such as speeding, texting and driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, running a red light, etc. More information on the components you must satisfy and what you must prove in your wrongful death case is available here.

A critical piece of a wrongful death suit is the idea that the defending party owed a duty of care to the victim. In a car accident death, this is a given. As motorists and users of roadways and other transportation-related infrastructure, we each have a duty of care to our fellow travelers. We owe it to each other to keep each other safe, within our abilities.

When a driver acts recklessly or irresponsibly, they are breaching their duty to keep their fellow users of the road safe, because their actions are putting the people around them in danger. When these actions can be shown to have caused the victim’s death, it can be considered a wrongful death.

Types of Wrongful Death Car Accidents

The at-fault driver’s error is the act of negligence in a wrongful death car accident. Common types of negligence by drivers that cause fatal accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Agressive driving
  • Unauthorized driving (such as without a license)
  • Drunk driving or driving under the infuence of drugs of alcohol
  • Speeding
  • Failure to obey traffic laws and signs
  • Failure to yield

Who Can Sue For Your Family Member’s Death

A wrongful death case is unique because the person who files the case must be of particular relation to the deceased. What that means is, to be able to sue someone for your loved one’s death in the state of Missouri, you must be either:

  • If available, the wrongful death suit must be brought by someone who is the spouse, child, descendants of a child, or parent of the wrongful death victim
  • If there is no one from the above list able to bring the suit, then a sibling or a descendant of a sibling of the deceased may file
  • If no one in either of the above groups can file, the court can appoint a special representative who is allowed to file the suit

So, you may file a wrongful death suit for the fatal car accident victim if you fall into the first category of a family member that is alive and able to file.

Wrongful Death Statute Requirements

In addition to fulfilling the family relation requirement, you must look at Missouri wrongful death statute’s further requirements in order to determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Only one wrongful death suit can be filed for a death. This means that different family members can not bring individual, separate wrongful death suits for one person’s death. In many cases, there will be multiple surviving close family members who all have legitimate claims to damages from the wrongful death. When this is the case, you may file a wrongful death suit together, or you can hire separate attorneys to negotiate a fair dispersal of the damages from the case.

There is a statute of limitations, or a time limit, for filing a wrongful death suit. In Missouri, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death suit is three years. This means you have three years from the date of death to file a suit. The sooner you speak with a lawyer after the event, the more your lawyer can do for you, and the stronger your case can be.

Was your family member killed in a car accident?

It is always difficult to lose someone you love. When your family member has been killed in a car accident, you may be able to sue the responsible driver for wrongful death. If you believe you may have a case for the wrongful death of your family member, speak to a lawyer right away.

To truly be effective in your lawsuit, you need a lawyer you trust. Amanda Hayden has 15 years of proven experience advocating for victims and their families and helping them get the settlements they feel are fair. When you choose the Hayden Law Firm, you have a savvy legal team and a trusted advisor by your side throughout the entirety of your case. Call us today at (314) 480-3100 or send us a message for a consultation, free of charge.


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