In Hemet and the rest of Southern California, cars are a way of life and the foundation of transportation in the area. However, an automobile accident can be a life-altering even that in the worst situations leads to permanent injuries or death. In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported over 36,000 traffic fatalities and in 2017 California reported over 3,600 people traffic deaths in the state. Even in a relatively small town of 87,000, Hemet reported 638 traffic-related injuries and deaths in 2016 alone. The massive loss of life is made more tragic by the fact the majority of the accidents and deaths were avoidable; nearly 80 percent of accidents occurred due to distracted driving. If someone else’s negligent behavior caused the loss of your loved one, contact an experienced Hemet Fatal Car Accident Attorney today to see if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Risks for Fatal Accidents in Hemet
Hemet is a busy commuter town in Riverside County located near the massive 10, 15, and 215 freeways and on the way to major metro areas such as Los Angeles and San Diego. Travel on busy city roads and highways in heavy traffic is a daily occurrence for most of the community, so many motorists are exposed to risky behavior by other drivers and have a chance of involvement in a fatal car accident. Passenger vehicles are also the most likely to have fatalities result. In fact, 61 percent of these accents occur in or near urban areas in places like Hemet, where traffic and the high occurrence of distracted driving, road rage, tailgating, drunk driving, and speeding are all unfortunately commonplace and result in needless loss of life. In August 2019 one person was killed and 3 hospitalized in a two car crash on Route 74 near Winchester Road, and a late night crash in 2018 resulted in a fatality due to the driver losing control from excess speed.
How Do Fatal Accidents Happen?
Most car accidents – whether fatalities occur or not – result from someone’s negligent behavior in their car. At least 80 percent of motorists admit to distracted driving at least some of the time, but there are other improper behaviors that also cause accidents and fatalities:
- Driving while intoxicated – more than 10,000 people were killed in alcohol-related car accidents last year alone, and these fatalities accounted for 31 percent of the nation’s traffic fatalities.
- Drowsy driving
- Speeding – speed was a contributing factor in 29 percent of all crashes resulting in fatalities.
- Defective roads or hazardous conditions
- Mechanical failures
- Running a stop sign or red light
Drivers, auto manufacturers, and even repair shops performing substandard work may all act in a way that makes them liable for a victim’s injuries.
Who Can Recover for Injuries in a Fatal Car Accident?
Even though the person killed in a Hemet car accident can’t sue for their own injuries, there are ways for the estate and certain grieving loved ones to pursue and recover compensation. If the deceased didn’t expire immediately upon infliction of their injuries, the estate’s representative can bring a survival action to recover for harms the deceased suffered between injury and their eventual death. The person killed didn’t have to survive for a long time in order for the estate to sue – even someone hit by a drunk drive who dies in an ambulance on the way to the hospital has lived long enough for damage to occur and a survival action lawsuit to follow.
Whether the deceased died instantly or not, eligible family members may also bring a wrongful death claim for injuries they personally sustained. Generally, the people able to bring a wrongful death claim are the deceased’s:
- Surviving spouse or registered domestic partner,
- Children, and
- Living grandchildren (if the grandchild’s parent is a deceased child of the casualty).
If these relatives don’t exist, other family members may sue if they can prove they financially depended on the deceased. This includes the deceased’s putative spouse, children of that putative spouse, stepchildren, and/or parents.
How Do I Win My Case?
It’s normal for victims who’ve lost a loved one to wonder how they can recover compensation for their loss and the harms they’ve suffered. Commonly, either the estate’s representative or the eligible family members must show they were hurt by someone else’s negligence. Negligence is established by showing:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you,
- Breached that duty through an act or omission, and
- Caused your harm through the breach.
Once these elements are established, the defendant is presumed to have acted negligently and will be responsible for the victim’s harms without a valid legal defense in a wrongful death action. For survival actions, the estate must also demonstrate that the deceased didn’t die immediately upon infliction of their injuries.
Additionally, if the estate or an eligible relative can prove the wrongdoer broke a law, rule, or regulation while causing the injury, the defendant is presumed to have acted negligently. This includes traffic laws such as speed limits and prohibitions against using cell phones or texting while driving.
What Can I Recover?
Depending on the type of action brought, victims may be entitled to certain damages if someone’s negligence caused their injuries and the fatal accident. In a survival action, the estate of the deceased – through the representative of the estate – may be awarded damages for the harms incurred between infliction of the deceased’s injuries and their death such as lost income, burial costs, property damages, and medical expenses. If the defendant’s conduct was egregious, the estate may be awarded punitive damages as punishment in some cases; these damages are difficult to prove, however, and completely at the court’s discretion.
In a wrongful death action, eligible family members may recover compensatory damages intended to make them whole for:
- Loss of the financial support expected from the deceased,
- The value of the deceased’s love, affection, and companionship lost from the accident, and
- Loss of the value of services contributed to their household by the deceased.
Family members, however, can never seek or recover punitive damages for wrongful death suits.
Speak with an Attorney
If you lost a loved one during a fatal car accident, contact the skilled Hemet Fatal Car Accident Attorneys at Walton Law, APC without delay. We know nothing will bring back your loved one, but we can help you maximize your recovery for the losses you suffered in this needless tragedy. Our attorneys have years of experience providing comprehensive, aggressive representation for victims like you and delivering results; we’ve recovered millions in compensation on behalf of our clients for their injuries. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to schedule your risk-free, no obligation case evaluation today. The initial consultation is completely confidential, and there’s no charge – in fact, you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our attorneys use their knowledge and skill to get the best possible outcome for you so you can focus on getting your life back on track.