Car accidents are among the top causes for unintentional deaths each year in the United States. In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that over 36,000 people lost their lives in traffic accidents –California alone lost over 3,600 people on its roads in 2017. Even the small town of Lake Elsinore with a population of only 66,000 reported 312 injuries and fatalities from traffic accidents in 2016. This tragedy is only compounded by the fact so many of these accidents were avoidable; nearly 80 percent resulted from some distracted driving behavior. Even Lake Elsinore’s relatively small size doesn’t take away from its close proximity to three major urban areas – areas in and around urban areas account for 61 percent of fatal car accidents throughout the country.
Unfortunately, when a loved one dies in a fatal car accident in Lake Elsinore, the damage done is far more than emotional; family members often count on the deceased for financial support and can find themselves in a bind almost overnight after their sudden absence. If you lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligent behavior on the road, contact an experienced Lake Elsinore Fatal Car Accident Attorney today to see if you may be entitled to compensation for yourself or on behalf of the deceased’s estate for your injuries.
What Causes Fatal Car Accidents? Though some fatal accidents truly are tragic accidents, the vast majority were avoidable accidents that happened because someone was negligent while operating their vehicle. Even though the majority of all collisions comes from distracted driving behavior such as texting and driving, there are several other culprits that cause a number of fatal car accidents in Lake Elsinore and the surrounding Southern California area.
- Driving while intoxicated
- Drowsy driving
- Driving too Fast in Poor Road Conditions or Poor Weather Conditions
- Running Stop Signs or Red Lights
Although this list of improper behaviors is not exhaustive by any means, there is a common thread that does indicate negligent behavior from at least one party – usually behind the wheel – causes accidents with fatal consequences. However, manufacturers producing defective vehicles and auto body shops doing substandard repair work may also be sued by a decedent’s loved one or their estate for injuries from a negligently caused fatal accident.
Who Can Sue for Fatal Car Accident Injuries? Though someone killed in a Lake Elsinore car accident can’t seek compensation for their own injuries, others can. If the deceased didn’t expire at the time of injury, a representative of their estate can bring a survival action to recover for harms suffered between the time of injury and death.
Also, whether the deceased expired instantly or not, eligible family members may sue for wrongful death for injuries they themselves suffered. There are classes of people who have standing to sue – the first class is generally the deceased’s nuclear family:
- Surviving spouse or registered domestic partner,
- Children, and
- Living grandchildren (if the grandchild’s parent is a deceased child of victim killed in the crash).
If none of these relatives exist, another class may then sue if they can demonstrate financial dependence on the decedent. This class includes the deceased’s:
- Putative spouse,
- Children of the putative spouse,
- Stepchildren, and
How Do I Recover for a Fatal Car Accident? A negligent party will be liable for your injuries unless they have a valid defense. Negligence is generally established by proving the defendant:
- Owed you a duty of care,
- Breached the duty through act or omission,
- Harmed you by way of the breach.
In car accident cases, victims may also assert negligence per se if the defendant harmed them while violating a law or regulation – including traffic laws like speeding. Proving the defendant broke a rule or regulation creates the presumption they were negligent.
How Much Can I Recover? After a defendant is found negligent, courts may award victims damages for their injuries. In both survival actions and wrongful death cases, you may be entitled to compensatory damages to make you as whole as possible for harms you can prove to a court.
In a survival action, a representative of the deceased’s estate may be awarded damages on the estate’s behalf for harms suffered between the deceased’s injury and their ultimate death. These may include property damage, lost wages, funeral costs, and medical expenses. In wrongful death actions, eligible family members may be awarded compensatory damages 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.
In survival actions, additional punitive damages may be awarded to the estate to punish a defendant’s egregiously vile or reprehensible behavior. However, punitive damages are not awarded to family in any wrongful death cases.
Speak with an Attorney If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one in a fatal car accident, contact the experienced Lake Elsinore Fatal Car Accident Attorneys at Walton Law, APC right away. Nothing will bring your loved one back, but we will fight for compensation you deserve from this needless tragedy. Our attorneys have been delivering personal, skilled representation for victims like you for years and recovered millions for their injuries. Contact us today to schedule your risk-free, no obligation case evaluation. We are available 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or through our online Contact Page to set up your initial consultation. The review is free, and you pay nothing until we win your case. Let our attorneys help you achieve the best possible outcome so you can start moving forward.