Car accidents are a common cause of death in Illinois. Often, these accidents result from someone else’s negligent actions, in which case those most affected by the deceased’s passing should be compensated. In these cases, wrongful death charges may be warranted.
Potential Causes of Wrongful Death in a Car Accident
Wrongful death from a vehicle accident could be the result of many factors. The causal factors involved in the accident will determine who is at fault (and therefore responsible for paying damages).
Perhaps the most common cause of vehicle accidents is other drivers. If someone isn’t paying attention to the road or is driving recklessly, they are often at fault for any accidents they’re involved in, meaning they need to pay damages.
In order to be held liable for an accident, a driver needs to be found more than 50% at fault for the accident. If they are less than 50%, then they are typically not required to pay for resulting damages.
Less commonly, though still often enough to warrant coverage here, is the possibility of a manufacturing defect. In these cases, a flaw that occurred during the manufacturing process for the vehicle or its constituent parts is the cause of the accident, in which case the manufacturer could be held liable.
Egregious design flaws
Alternatively, the accident may result from an inherent flaw in the vehicle’s design. These design flaws aren’t introduced in the manufacturing process—they occur as a result of the way the vehicle is intended to be built. In cases where flaws in a vehicle’s design results in the death of a driver, those responsible for designing the vehicle should be held accountable.
Damages for Wrongful Death Claims after a Vehicle Accident
The damages available in a wrongful death claim will typically include economic and noneconomic damages. In rare cases, punitive damages may also be assessed.
Economic damages include those damages that can be objectively calculated into a specific dollar amount. In wrongful death claims, they usually include:
- Medical/hospice expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost economic support, such as the decedent’s wages/salary
Noneconomic damages are harder to calculate in an objective way since they are meant to compensate the affected parties for their emotional and physical distress. As such, they typically involve a subjective assessment with damages calculated as a multiplier of the economic damages involved in the case.
Noneconomic damages include:
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of counsel
- Loss of love, companionship, and society
In cases where the offending party acted in a particularly egregious or grossly negligent manner, punitive damages may also be assessed. However, these are fairly rare in personal injury cases.
Making a Wrongful Death Claim
If a loved one has passed away as a result of a vehicle accident, it may be possible to recover damages through a wrongful death lawsuit. Throughout the process, you’ll need an attorney to represent you. Hart David Carson LLP can help you through the process with legal counsel and representation.