We all know that riding motorcycles can be dangerous, as motorcyclists are more exposed to injury on the road than passengers in cars. Unfortunately, without the protections that cars provide, the risk of fatal injuries from motorcycle accidents is generally higher. If you have a loved one who dies in motorcycle accident, you can bring a legal action against the responsible driver.
A claim for wrongful death
When personal injury results in death, whether as a result of a motorcycle accident, automobile accident or truck accident, the victim’s survivors can bring a lawsuit referred to as a “wrongful death” suit. This type of claim only arises when someone dies as a result of the negligence or intentional conduct of someone else. In normal personal injury cases, the person who is injured files the lawsuit. But, the victim in a wrongful death case, obviously can no longer bring the claim. Instead, the personal representative of the victim’s estate, or the victim’s heirs, is allowed to bring the lawsuit.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In Arkansas, if a personal representative has been appointed to handle the victim’s estate, that person is authorized to file a wrongful death claim, if a personal representative has been appointed. Otherwise, the claim may be filed by the legal heirs of the victim, which would include “the deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; persons standing “in loco parentis,” and persons to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.”
In Missouri, the rule is a little different. Instead of the personal representative of the estate, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren are first in line to bring the claim. The parents of the victim may also bring the claim. When the claim involves the death of a child, the parents are normally the ones to file the wrongful death claim. However, if none of these individuals survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the lawsuit.
What type of damages can be awarded?
The damages in wrongful death cases are pretty much the same in most states. There are generally two types of damages that can be awarded, damages to the estate and damages to the survivors or the family. Damages to the estate can include expenses for the last illness or injury, including lost earnings and medical expenses. Damages can also be recovered for conscious pain and suffering of the decedent, occurring between the onset of injury and death.
The surviving family members can also seek compensation for losses they suffered as a result of losing their loved one. These types of damages include loss of the financial support of the deceased person, loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. These damages focus on the losses the family members actually suffered.
If you have questions regarding motorcycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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