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What to Do after a Fatal Car Wreck

Although car accidents usually involve property damage and personal injury, a more violent and catastrophic accident can leave one or more people involved in the wreck with fatal injuries. If you and your family have a loved one who was killed in a car crash through no fault of their own, it is important to know your legal rights and options.

Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

In most cases, the family of someone killed in a car accident caused by another person or entity may be entitled to bring a wrongful death lawsuit forward. In New Jersey, a wrongful death claim may be brought by surviving immediate family members, such as a spouse, children, parents, or any other family members who were financially dependent on the deceased person. New Jersey law only allows families to recover economic losses in a wrongful death action, such as medical expenses to treat fatal injuries, funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of the family member’s expected financial contributions to the family and household; non-economic losses such as the emotional trauma and loss arising from a loved one’s death may not be awarded in wrongful death claims.  In addition to a wrongful death action, a family member can also to bring or file a survival action, which provides compensation for the pain and suffering experienced to the person before he or she passed away.

Holding Someone Liable for a Fatal Car Wreck

While some fatal car crashes are factually straightforward, many others require sifting through evidence to put together how the accident occurred and to identify who may have been at fault for the crash. Various factors and actions can lead to a fatal wreck, including speeding and/or failing to comply with traffic laws, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or driving while distracted by a cell phone or while drowsy/fatigued. Pursuing a wrongful death claim for a fatal car wreck will require securing and reviewing evidence such as vehicle damage reports, accident scene photos, eyewitness statements, medical reports, and accident reconstruction reports prepared by experts following the crash.

Legal Consequences of Fatal Car Accidents

In some cases, a fatal car accident may lead to criminal charges against the driver or drivers responsible for causing the crash. In the most serious cases, an at-fault driver may be charged with crimes such as vehicular homicide or involuntary manslaughter. 

However, even when criminal charges arise from a fatal car wreck, the family of a person killed in the crash will still need to pursue a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation on their wrongful death claim. Compensation following a criminal conviction, often called restitution, is not always awarded following a criminal conviction, and rarely in criminal cases involving personal injury or death. In some cases, a criminal conviction arising from a fatal car wreck can serve as critical and highly persuasive evidence of the at-fault driver’s liability, and potentially the family’s entitlement to additional financial awards such as punitive damages. 

Contact a Rochelle Park Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in New Jersey

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at The Epstein Law Firm, P.A. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Garfield, Englewood, Bergenfield, Paramus, and throughout New Jersey. Call (201) 380-7687 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 340 West Passaic Street, Rochelle Park, NJ 07662.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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