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Coy H. Browning has recovered millions of dollars for his clients in jury verdicts and settlements.

Pursuing a wrongful death car accident leaves the burden on the family who have their beloved one involved. Consequently, it is crucial to understand the comprehensive legal process, including the financial and liability aspects, to reduce the workload.

Regarding offsetting the loss of family members in the aftermath of a regrettable collision, the article will point out the six key things to know when claiming a wrongful death car accident settlement. Specifically, it relates to the defendant's liability, the implementation time, compensation value determination, and tips to look for quality lawyers for specific cases.

Wrongful Death Car Accident Settlement

How wrongful death liability works in the context of a car accident case

Traffic accidents witnessed significant victims, rising to 38000 in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. With the diversity of reasons behind each miserable wrongful case, it is essential to clarify the liability of all involved individuals and entities.

In terms of car accidents, the main reasons come from human faults, such as intentional acts or negligence. Despite the difference between each jurisdiction’s statute, the wrongful death lawsuit can determine the liability with the following points:

  • Prove the drivers violate negligent or international behavior
  • Prove the defendants’ actions were the main reasons for the accidents
  • Prove the injury or other kinds of damages mainly suffered from the accidents

To ensure persuasiveness when claiming liability, the plaintiff should prepare the list of evidence, including:

  • Photos showing the accident scene and the damage
  • Records of the date, time, weather conditions, street names, and relevant road signs
  • Witnesses’ contact details - Medical records that show the seriousness of the injury
  • Detailed police report

Who Can File a Car Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The eligibility to file a car accident wrongful death lawsuit shows the difference among various jurisdictions. However, we can generally separate two groups of individuals who can conduct litigation for this case: survivors or groups of survivors and the decedent’s estate.

Survivors or Groups of Survivors

In wrongful death cases, state statutes typically specify eligible filers, often prioritizing based on the decedent's relationship:

  • Priority to Immediate Family: The decedent's surviving spouse and children usually have the first right to file a lawsuit.
  • Extended Family Eligibility: If no spouse or children survive, parents and sometimes siblings are next in line.
  • Distant Relatives: In some cases, more distant relatives like grandparents, aunts, uncles, and nieces and nephews may be eligible.
  • Other Potential Filers: In a few states, domestic partners or financial dependents might have the right to sue if no relatives survive.

Personal Representative

In certain jurisdictions, initiating a wrongful death lawsuit is an exclusive right of the administrators or executives. They play a role as personal representatives in handling the estate and filing the lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.

Personal Representative

Recovering Compensation for Fatal Automobile Accident Claims

Recovering compensation in fatal automobile accident claims involves a detailed legal process. Compensation typically covers various types of damage, including economic, non-economic, and punitive ones.

However, the actual amount of received compensation for the car accident wrongful death lawsuit can be adjustable based on the impact of the following factors:

  • The surviving family members: The court will examine the motive and character of the insurance claim money receiver to decide the final compensation
  • The deceased: The moral characteristics that define the deceased as a good person can affect the decision to claim the insurance after the suing court.
  • The party causing the wrongful death: The character morality of the defendants still affects the court's final decision. Indeed, it can help the court evaluate whether the motive of the accused party was intentional.
  • The judge’s reputation: The reputation and experience of the judge can impact the case outcome significantly.

The Time It Takes to File a Wrongful Death Claim

The time frame for filing a wrongful death claim related to car accidents varies, subject to several factors:

  • Statute of Limitations Variability: The time limit for filing wrongful death claims can indeed vary significantly by state, often between 1 to 3 years from the date of death.
  • Case Complexity and Investigation: Establishing fault, gathering evidence, and dealing with multiple parties can extend the time required to file. The complexity of the case can impact the overall time to complete a wrongful death claim case.
  • Preparation and Legal Procedures: Drafting and filing legal documents and thorough preparation by legal representatives are crucial parts of the process.
  • Negotiation and Settlement Processes: Negotiating with insurance companies or other parties can affect the duration before the claim is filed.
  • Potential for Pre-Trial Settlements: Cases may indeed be settled before reaching court, which could either shorten or lengthen the time frame depending on the negotiation process.

How courts determine the monetary value of a wrongful death car accident lawsuit

In determining the monetary value of a wrongful death car accident lawsuit, courts follow a three-stage test:

1. Calculating the Multiplicand: Courts first quantify the deceased's income, including wages, investments, pensions, and other benefits. They deduct a reasonable personal expenditure percentage to estimate what would have been available for family use. It is 25% for claimants married with dependent children and 33% for those with no dependents.

2. Step Two - Applying the Multiplier: This amount (multiplicand) is then multiplied by the number of years the claimant would have relied financially on the deceased. The multiplier considers multiple factors, such as the deceased’s profession, age, and expected retirement.

3. Step Three - Adjusting for Specific Circumstances: Adjustments are made to the multiplicand or multiplier based on unique family circumstances, such as the need for childcare or housekeeping if the deceased was a parent.

Practically, the determination process can be intricate to the extent that the plaintiffs need to seek advice from professional legal experts to maximize the compensation amount.

How courts determine the monetary value of a wrongful death car accident lawsuit

Lawyers for Wrongful Death Claims in Car Accidents

In the unfortunate event of a wrongful death resulting from a car accident, having compassionate and experienced lawyers by your side is crucial. They can help you navigate the legal complexities and seek justice for your loved one. When hiring a lawyer for wrongful death claims in car accidents, consider the following:

  • Expert Legal Navigation: Attorneys offer expertise in state laws and complex legal procedures, which is essential for building a solid case.
  • Specialization: Seek attorneys who specialize in wrongful death claims, ensuring they have relevant experience and knowledge.
  • Track Record: Check their history in handling similar cases, including success rates and client testimonials.
  • Credentials: Verify their qualifications and standing in the legal community.

If you're facing such a situation, consider reaching out to Browning Law for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting you through this difficult time and pursuing the justice your family deserves.


Navigating the wrongful death car accident settlement requires a comprehensive understanding of various legal aspects, from establishing liability to calculating and recovering just compensation. These intricate cases involve evaluating accident details, determining fault, and assessing the financial and emotional impact on the deceased's family.

FAQs about Wrongful Death

1. What are the damages for wrongful death?

Damages for wrongful death typically include compensation for financial losses such as lost future income, medical and funeral expenses, and non-economic damages like loss of companionship and emotional suffering of the survivors. These damages aim to provide financial support and acknowledge the emotional impact of the loss on the deceased's family.

2. What is the difference between personal injury and wrongful death?

Personal injury refers to harm suffered by a person, encompassing physical, emotional, or mental injuries. Wrongful death, on the other hand, specifically pertains to cases where someone loses their life due to another party's negligence or intentional actions. In essence, personal injury claims seek compensation for injuries, while wrongful death claims seek compensation for the loss of life.

3. Should I hire an attorney for a wrongful death case?

Yes, hiring an attorney for a wrongful death case is highly advisable. A skilled attorney can navigate the legal complexities, gather evidence, and ensure your rights are protected. If you're facing the aftermath of a wrongful death, reaching out to Browning Law Firm for compassionate and experienced legal support. Our team is here to guide you through this challenging time.

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