What Happens if Someone Dies in a Car Accident?

Posted on 03/29/23

in Personal Injury

Losing a beloved family member always feels deeply wrong, especially when it happens suddenly and unexpectedly, with no time for goodbyes. Car accidents are one of the most common causes of sudden, unexpected deaths, but when an accident occurs as the result of the negligence, recklessness, or purposeful wrongdoing of someone else, it can be even more devastating to those left behind. Fortunately, surviving loved ones have a legal recourse to achieve not only a sense of justice but also relief for the financial consequences caused by the loss of a family provider. 

While financial compensation cannot return a lost family member, it can help loved ones to move forward from their grief with fewer financial worries. Not all car accidents occur due to someone else’s fault, but if your loved one died in a car accident through no fault of their own, a wrongful death lawsuit may be the first step forward for those left behind.

What Can I Gain From a Wrongful Death Claim?

When a loved one dies unexpectedly after a car accident, it can leave close family members struggling to pay bills at the same time they are dealing with grief and anguish over the loss. A successful wrongful death claim can help those with financial impacts from the loss to recover the following economic and non-economic damages:

  • Medical expenses accrued before the death and related to the injury
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of benefits including healthcare and pension benefits
  • Grief and anguish
  • Loss of a spouse’s companionship and/or support and guidance for children
  • Loss of a lifetime of love and support from a child

When a family member’s death resulted from someone else’s direct fault, the family members left behind deserve compensatory justice. A wrongful death claim allows family members to achieve both through a civil legal avenue regardless of whether or not there are criminal charges in the case.

In some cases, the courts may also award family members punitive damages. Unlike compensation for surviving family members, punitive damages are meant to serve as a punishment for egregious wrongful behavior by the person at fault and as a deterrent to prevent future wrongful behavior.

Who Can File For Wrongful Death in Oklahoma?

Not everyone can file a wrongful death claim. Most states limit the family members allowed to file this type of lawsuit to those who suffer financial impacts from the death. This prevents more distant relatives from profiting from the death. In Oklahoma, the following family members file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Adult children of the deceased
  • A personal representative of the family, typically the executor of the deceased person’s estate or a representative appointed by the court

Should I File a Wrongful Death Claim?

When you’re still reeling from the loss of a loved one, it can be difficult to take on a distressing legal process; However, it’s important to weigh your option for the future if you’ve lost a provider. A seasoned wrongful death lawyer in Oklahoma City can help shoulder the legal processes for loved ones left behind so they are better able to focus on the grieving process. A successful claim can help pay for bills associated with the death and provide a more stable future for family members.