Losing a spouse is never easy. Grief, loneliness, and depression are just a few of the serious side effects one might endure after their partner has been killed, and, according to Psychology Today, could lead to a downward spiral that cripples the surviving spouse for years to come.
Depression isn’t the only consequence of losing your spouse, though. For those whose partner was killed in a car accident, there’s also a financial component presented by the outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit brought against the defendant who caused the death.
Though the laws regarding wrongful deaths vary from state to state, the following article will lay out some of the basics regarding wrongful death claims and auto insurance compensation following the loss of your spouse. Here’s what you need to know first.
What A Wrongful Death Claim Entails
Generally speaking, a wrongful death claim might arise “after situations in which a victim who would otherwise have a valid personal injury claim is killed as a result of the defendant’s wrongful action.” This can include intentional killings, medical malpractice, and, indeed, car accident fatalities where negligence was a factor.
A spouse of a deceased may file a wrongful death claim on their behalf, and, in some cases, a romantic (non-married) partner may file such a claim if they can show financial dependence upon the deceased party. In order to hold a defendant liable for a wrongful death, plaintiffs must “meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet had the victim lived,” and in the case of a car accident, that usually means proving the negligence that led to the wreck.
The First Steps To Take If Your Spouse Is Killed
First and foremost, it’s important to take an appropriate amount of time to grieve the loss of a spouse, as it is a very traumatic life event. When ready to proceed, though, your first step should be to hire an attorney to assist with a wrongful death lawsuit. A skilled lawyer will assist with navigating the legal intricacies of the case, and will help carry out the task of investigating the circumstances to aid your claim.
Because the plaintiff has to show that the other party was negligent in a wrongful death claim, you’ll also want to thoroughly document the details of the accident, and collect as much evidence as possible that proves your case — medical bills, photos, witness testimony, etc.
You’ll want to keep any and all receipts and invoices resulting from expenses related to your spouse’s death, and to show how their loss of life has impacted your household financially. You’ll also need to notify your insurance company, regardless of who was at fault, and through negotiations, you may reach a reasonable settlement before going to trial with your claim.
If not, though, then you’ll need to build your case and take it to trial, which your attorney can assist with. Though there’s never a guarantee, if you have a skilled lawyer and strong facts on your side, the likelihood of success in court will be increased.