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Car Accidents Resulting in Wrongful Death

What to Do if a Loved One Dies in a Car Crash

Losing a loved one in a car accident is a heart-wrenching experience that no one should have to go through alone. Not only are you suffering the loss of life, but also the financial burden that such a sudden death has placed on your family.

If a loved one died a wrongful death as a result of a car crash, you are entitled to compensation for your losses and grievances. Our team of kind and compassionate wrongful death and car accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are here to provide you with the support that you need to pursue compensation for the loss of your loved one in a car accident.

Causes of Fatal Car Crashes

According to the CDC, car accidents are ranked third in the leading causes of death in the United States. A report from the CDC concluded that an annual average of 33,804 unintentional deaths in the nation was due to motor vehicle accidents.

The causes of such fatal crashes vary, but are mostly due to negligence and/or reckless driving behavior. Common forms of such behavior include:

  • Speeding
  • Drowsy driving
  • Aggressive driving
  • Texting while driving
  • Inexperienced driving
  • Driving while distracted
  • Driving while drug-impaired
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Crash

Pedestrian Deaths in Los Angeles

After a fatal car crash, it is possible to file a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for damages caused by the crash and the loss of your loved one.

A successful wrongful death claim is dependent on several important factors, however. It’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side to help prove the following:

  • The defendant owed your loved one a duty of care, meaning that the other driver owed your loved one the responsibility to drive safely.
  • The defendant breached their duty of care, meaning that the driver caused the accident through their own negligent or reckless driving behaviors.
  • Your loved one died as a result of the defendant’s breach of duty of care, meaning that your loved one passed away due to their negligent or reckless driving.

Available Damages After a Car Accident 

In a wrongful death case, a victim is eligible for economic and non-economic damages after a car accident resulting in wrongful death. Damages is the legal term for financial compensation in a lawsuit.

Examples of economic damages for a wrongful death case include:

  • Loss of benefits or gifts. For example, a dependent on a health insurance plan of the deceased loses coverage.
  • Loss of wages or income. This occurs when a family loses financial support that came from the decedent’s income.
  • Funeral costs and burial costs. This is the total amount of expenses that have been spent on setting up for the funeral service and burial of the deceased victim.

Examples of non-economic damages for a wrongful death case include:

  • Emotional distress. Surviving family members suffer from grief and emotional distress due to the loss of a loved one.
  • Loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of sexual and romantic relations, and possibility to reproduce with the spouse or partner that died in the accident.
  • Loss of emotional support. This indicates the loss of support, love, and guidance that the decedent provided to their surviving family.

In all other personal injury cases that don’t result in wrongful death, there is the possibility of being awarded punitive damages, in addition to the rest of the economic and non-economic damages.

Punitive damages are intended to further punish the party at-fault for causing the losses in the personal injury case, however, they are rarely awarded at an only 5 percent rate of all personal injury cases.

Punitive damages are only implemented when the damage, intent, or recklessness of the party at-fault is especially malice. However, in wrongful death cases, punitive damages are not available unless the family files a survival action suit.

Survival Actions After a Car Accident 

A survival action can be filed if property damage occurred before the victim was killed in a wrongful death accident. If a survival action is filed, then punitive damages become available. In the case of car accidents, it is more than likely that property damage was committed before a victim was killed in the crash.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help 

If your loved one died a wrongful death as a result of injuries or upon impact in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Our expert team of attorneys specializing in car accident and wrongful death cases are here to help you every step of the way by building your case, filing your claim, negotiating compensation, and filing a lawsuit, if necessary.

Contact our expert legal team today by calling (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected] for a free consultation. We offer our subsequent services on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that you won’t pay us a penny until we win your case.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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