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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

What Happens When Someone Is Killed in a Car Accident?

Updated: Jan 17

Every year, millions of people are killed in car accidents across the United States. Some of them die on the spot, while others live long enough to obtain medical attention but succumb to their injuries sadly. Survivors of a driver or passenger killed in a fatal car accident often struggle to cope with their grief and don't know where to turn for support.

We hope to answer one of their most basic queries in this article: What happens when someone dies in a car accident?

How Often Does Someone Die in a Car Wreck?

How Often Does Someone Die in a Car Wreck?

Every year, around 1.25 million people are killed in car accidents, with many more suffering from non-life-threatening injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car accident occurs at least once per minute of the day. While some of these are mild, others have the potential to be lethal.

A sudden death accident occurs when a victim dies at the scene of a collision, usually as a result of a high-speed impact or blunt force injuries.

The sufferer survives long enough to reach a hospital in the event of a fatal accident. Their bodies, however, are unable to cope due to substantial physical injury. They could die in an ambulance or a medical facility.

These deaths are also considered road fatality victims.

The fundamental cause for the high number of road deaths is that we spend so much time in our cars daily.

It's the most harmful activity we do on a routine basis for the majority of us. Despite this, many people continue to break the rules of the road when driving, which is frequently the cause of tragic accidents.

The Most Common Causes of Road Accidents

Many people are curious about how people die in car accidents. There are numerous scenarios in which a driver may be involved in a fatal car accident. Occasionally, it's just a simple fender bender, but other times, their vehicle may be totaled.

Most drivers, however, might agree that the most dangerous accidents are those that are likely to result in death.

While most people associate drugs and alcohol with fatal car accidents, speeding kills more people than any other traffic violation. Even a few miles beyond the legal speed can make it difficult to maintain control of a vehicle, particularly in less-than-ideal conditions.

Another significant cause of deaths, particularly in the cell phone era, is distracted or negligent driving. Drivers who take their eyes off the road to text or talk on the phone are less aware of the environment and are more likely to collide with something or someone.

In the United States, drowsy drivers are likewise a big source of worry.

Many people are unaware of the dangers of driving while tired. Someone who has just completed a 12-hour shift lacks the mental skills and reaction times necessary to drive safely.

In fact, many experts believe that drowsy driving is exactly as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

People who do not obey the basic laws of the road create many deadly accidents. If someone fails to read the traffic signs on the road, they may end up hitting the person who has the right of way.

Two common causes of deadly traffic accidents are failure to follow stop and yield signs.

To prevent making the same mistakes as others, it's vital to be informed of what usually causes tragic accidents. The driver must make sure that he/she is always aware of and following the regulations of the road.

The “At-Fault” Driver May Face Criminal Charges, But Not Always

Many car accidents occur as a result of one of the drivers acting negligently or recklessly. If another person dies as a result of the collision, the driver may face criminal penalties such as vehicular manslaughter.

However, not every fatal collision may result in criminal culpability for the "at-fault" driver. The local district attorney decides whether or not to charge a motorist in a fatal car accident with a crime, based on a range of variables to evaluate whether or not the driver was "criminally culpable" in the fatality. Frequently, district attorneys may assess whether:

  1. Under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In the U.S, it is prohibited to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Frequently, a fatal drunk or drugged driving accident results in criminal charges being filed against the driver.

  2. The driver was negligent and/or disobeyed traffic laws. Every driver has a legal responsibility to respect the rules of the road and avoid harming others. After a car accident occurs as a result of a flagrant breach of driving rules, such as excessive speeding or "road rage," the driver is often prosecuted.

  3. Whether the collision was caused by forces beyond the driver's control. A fatal accident caused by a situation beyond a driver's control, such as poor road conditions, unanticipated mechanical breakdown, or an "Act of God," is less likely to result in felony convictions.

The Estate of the Deceased Person May File a Civil “Wrongful Death” Action

If a family member dies in a car accident, the deceased's surviving family members are entitled to file a "wrongful death" lawsuit under U.S law, as long as the victim could have filed a personal injury claim for the injuries caused by the accident if he or she had survived. The following are the essential considerations:

There Must Be a Legally Responsible Party

To have the legal right to seek financial compensation on behalf of the survivors of a deceased car accident victim, there must be someone to demand compensation from. In other words, the car accident had to have been caused in part by someone other than the deceased accident victim's wrongful activities.

In this way, each car accident is unique. Many car accidents are caused by a driver's carelessness or recklessness. The motorist (and his or her insurance policy) can be held legally responsible for the wrongful death of anyone killed in those accidents. When looking for parties with legal liability for a terrible loss of life, experienced car accident wrongful death lawyers know not to stop at the "other driver." Instead, they analyze accidents to see if one or more other or additional persons were "at fault" for the tragic accident.

The lawyer's investigation could include questions about whether the accident was caused by:

Failures due to mechanical issues. If a fatal car accident was caused by a mechanical breakdown of a car part, such as a tire blowout, the lawyer for the survivors may wish to investigate whether the failure was caused by a "defect" that made the part "unreasonably risky."

Manufacturers of "unreasonably risky" automotive parts may face legal liability under U.S. law for the harm their faulty products cause, including car accidents that end in someone's unexpected passing. Similarly, auto mechanics may be held liable if repairs they made (or omitted to make) to a vehicle rendered it excessively risky and resulted in an accident.

An excessive amount of alcohol is served to a bar or restaurant guest. It is prohibited for pubs and restaurants to provide alcohol to a patron who is "visibly intoxicated," according to the law in the U.S. If a patron causes a tragic drunk driving accident, violating that statute can expose those facilities to legal liability for wrongful death.

Employers of drivers. Furthermore, employers in the U.S are generally liable for their workers' actions while they are "on the job." If a commercial vehicle driver causes a fatal crash as a result of negligent or reckless driving, the driver's company may be liable to the victim's family for damages. Similarly, if an employer's own conduct contributed to the cause of a car accident, such as when an employer compels a driver to fabricate documents or puts drivers out on the road in cars in poor condition, the employer may have "direct" liability.

Each vehicle accident situation is unique. A top auto accident law office knows how to dig deep into the facts to find all individuals who may have played a role in a client's loved one's terrible loss.

The Personal Representative of the Deceased Person’s Estate Must Bring the Action

A wrongful death action for personal injury damages originating from the death of a person killed in a car accident can only be filed once. According to the law, the personal representative of the deceased's estate has the authority to bring the case "only for the benefit of the deceased's children, spouse, or parents."

If the deceased individual left a will, damages are distributed according to it; if not, they are allocated according to U.S statutes for distributing an estate of a person who died without leaving a will. However, if there is no spouse, child, or parent to claim damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate's personal representative may nonetheless pursue the action.

The Action Can Seek to Recover a Variety of Damages

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative demands compensation for both any claims the deceased person could have had originating from the car accident and certain extra damages arising from the death itself. The following are examples of typical damages:

Medical bills incurred by a loved one before death. In certain situations, an automobile accident can result in the death of a loved one hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. Medical expenditures may quickly escalate due to the severity of a loved one's injury. A wrongful death claim often includes compensation for those medical bills.

Expenses incurred as a result of the death of a loved one. Funeral and burial fees, as well as other expenses linked to a loved one's death, are often included in the damages sought in a wrongful death claim.

Many injuries cause significant suffering before resulting in the death of the person who was hurt in the event. If a loved one survived the accident for some time, a wrongful death claim could be filed to compensate a relative for their pain and suffering.

In a wrongful death case, the income a loved one was unable to earn between the incident and the date of death, as well as the future income they would have received had the death not occurred, are included in the calculation of damages.

The absence of a loved one's presence, support, and company. This could mean losing the guidance and wisdom of a parent for minor children, or for the deceased's spouse, this could imply the loss of company as well as a lover and companion.

The “Value” of a Wrongful Death Action Depends on the Financial Resources of the Party with Liability

Every family who has lost a loved one in a fatal accident is entitled to full compensation from the at-fault party. In practice, a family's ability to receive compensation is contingent on the financial capabilities of the party responsible for their loved one's untimely passing and if a police report was filed after the accident. If the "other driver" is solely responsible for the accident, the amount of insurance that driver carries may, in most (but not all) situations, determine how much money the mourning family can expect to receive.

That is why, in a wrongful death case, skilled lawyers understand the vital need of diving deep into a case to uncover every party with potential legal liability. Finding a second, third, or fourth party with liability in many cases effectively doubles, triples, or quadruples the funds available to pay a settlement or judgment verdict. Of course, that possibility does not arise in every circumstance. Clients, on the other hand, have every right to expect their lawyer to conduct the necessary due diligence in order to identify the entire extent of any potential liability.

Avoiding Fatal Wrecks

A person doesn't have to be concerned about what occurs when a person is killed in a car accident all of the time. While a person has no control over what other drivers do on the road, they can take steps to lessen their chance of being involved in a fatal accident.

One of the easiest methods to avoid a collision with a drunk driver is to drive defensively. When driving, one should always be attentive, alert, and aware of their surroundings.

Every few years, it's a good idea for a driver to brush up on their state's road standards to offer themselves a refresher course on safe driving. If the driver plans on traveling to other states or countries, they must be aware of their local road laws to avoid getting into a fatal accident.

Furthermore, if a person is ever in an accident, there are actions they may take to protect everyone in their vehicle from serious injury. Seat belts should be worn by the driver, passenger, and anybody else riding in the vehicle for the duration of the journey. In order to be protected, children under the age of 13 should ride in an age-appropriate car seat.

Everyone should also sit erect, with their legs down and their arms within the vehicle. Compacting metal, airbags, compacting metal, and glass shards may be more likely to injure someone if their legs are up or arms are out.

The driver must keep a safe gap between their car and the vehicle in front of them while driving. They must keep a three-second travel gap behind them as a general rule of thumb. The driver shouldn't have to worry about ramming into someone else's bumper if they come to a quick stop this way. This lessens the likelihood of the other person's vehicle colliding with the driver's vehicle by providing a safe stopping distance.

Hiring an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Is a Must

Hiring an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney Is a Must

Families who have lost a loved one in a car accident are faced with unanticipated and emotionally draining burdens. They require experienced, sophisticated legal advice to help them make informed judgments about when and how to pursue justice through a wrongful death action. Any lawyer cannot suffice. Families should only entrust their case to a lawyer with enough knowledge and resources to pursue a wrongful death claim to the fullest extent possible.

Contact The Keating Firm LTD

Car accidents, unfortunately, are not rare causes of death. It can be difficult to live with the aftermath of a loved one's death in an automobile accident.

Knowing what occurs if someone dies in a car accident, on the other hand, can help a person prepare for the future. They aren't taken off guard by any of the legal or financial challenges that may arise.

Victims of a tragic accident may face criminal charges, and those who were close to the deceased may be entitled to financial compensation.

The most important thing for everybody to remember is that being proactive is the greatest method to deal with traffic accidents. We can fight to reduce the number of road fatalities each year if we all respect the rules of the road and take efforts to protect car passengers.

If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact The Keating Firm LTD Group.


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