The death of a loved one is always difficult, but a sudden death related to a motor vehicle accident can be particularly devastating. Dealing with a wrongful death claim when you’ve recently lost a family member in a car accident is one part of the process of holding the wrongdoer accountable. This should help you understand the basics of understanding what a wrongful death claim is and whether the law gives you the right to file a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is a claim by certain legal “heirs” or the estate of the person who was killed. In Idaho, the claim can be filed by either a legal heir or the “personal representative’ of the estate. There are rules as to who constitutes a surviving family member. In Idaho, this includes the deceased person’s spouse, children, stepchildren, parents or any other blood relative that was wholly or partially dependent upon the deceased person as well as anyone defined as an heir to the estate under Idaho probate code.
The wrongful death claim can be brought if another driver’s negligence causes the death.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Since wrongful death lawsuits resulting from a car accident are civil cases, the issue is limited to monetary damages or compensation for the loss. When determining a dollar amount for the claim, there are several factors to consider. SOme are economic losses and some are noneconomic losses:
- Medical costs incurred prior to death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of income from the deceased
- Loss of love, care, guidance and companionship for the surviving family members
Idaho does have a “cap” that limits the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded to compensate surviving relatives for the loss of a relationship with the deceased person. The cap is somewhat complex but as of the time of this post it is about $312,000.00
To win a wrongful death lawsuit after a car wreck, you must prove that the defendant’s actions were a breach of duty in regard to the responsibility of a driver to operate his or her automobile in a safe manner. This could be accomplished by presenting evidence of impairment or distracted driving, for example.
Once breach of duty has been established, you must prove that the defendant’s actions led to the death of the deceased person. This can be more more difficult if the accident involved several vehicles or the deceased had other medical conditions that could arguably have led to his or her death.
Hiring an Attorney
If you believe another driver’s negligence caused the death of your loved one, seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney is a must. The attorneys at Holzer Edwards are experienced in settling wrongful death claims involving drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. We have a team of attorneys that are dedicated to helping families receive the compensation they deserve. Please give us a call today at (208) 386-9119 or toll-free at (888) 490-0992 for a free consultation.