In order to recover for your injuries following a car accident, accident lawyers must first determine who is at fault. The first step is to determine who caused the accident or whose negligence lead to your injuries. Depending on how severe the car accident is, there could be substantial repair costs and medical expenses. The person who is determined to be at fault is the person responsible for reimbursing you for your damages. But what happens if the negligent driver is killed in the accident?
You may still bring a claim if the negligent driver dies
The fact that the negligent driver dies in a car accident does not necessarily mean that the injured person can no longer bring a personal injury claim. However, the claim could be somewhat more difficult. Instead, in most situations, the claim can still be made with the negligent person’s insurance carrier, even if the insured dies in the accident. For the most part, this situation is handled in the same way any other personal injury claim would be handled. If the claim cannot settle through negotiations with the insurance carrier, then a lawsuit will still need to be filed.
Who do you sue if the negligent party is deceased?
How the litigation works depends on whether there is an administrator for the estate of the deceased. If there is, the administrator will take the place of the deceased for purposes of filing the lawsuit and litigation can otherwise proceeds as usual. As accident lawyers know, it becomes a little more complicated when there is no estate established yet, so there is no one legally in place to represent the deceased defendant. In this situation, the injured person must first have the estate set up and an administrator appointed so that there is someone upon whom you can serve the lawsuit.
The purpose of the lawsuit is the same
The main purpose of filing any lawsuit is to recover, or be compensated, for the injuries you have sustained, due to the actions of another. In the auto accident context, you are asking the court to make the driver who was at-fault compensate you for all of your injuries and losses that occurred because of the accident. What you are entitled to receive, in compensation for your injuries, is referred to as “damages” in the legal field. As you can imagine, there are both economic and non-economic damages that you may have suffered following an auto accident. So, many clients ask, “what can I sue for after an auto accident?” Precisely what type of damages you may be entitled to depends on the facts of each client’s case. But there are certain types of damages that are generally involved in auto accident cases.
The difference between economic and non-economic damages
As you may have guessed, economic damages are the easiest to explain and to prove to the court. These are the types of financial losses that you suffer, such as your medical expenses, income you lost from missing time at work, the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle, and many others. As long as the financial loss can be attributed to the accident, you may be able to recover for that loss.
Non-economic damages are typically more difficult to prove because they are very subjective. This means they are also more difficult to quantify. For instance, pain and suffering, mental distress, and anxiety are common non-economic damages that are claimed following an auto accident. However, proving them can be a problem. The best evidence would be documentation from a psychologist or counselor who has diagnosed you with these problems and provided you treatment, as well.
What should I do to prove my damages?
The most important thing you can do is retain documentation of your damages. Your medical bills can be proven through your medical records and your lost income can be shown with your pay stubs or time records from your employer. The damages to your vehicle should be evaluated by professionals and repair estimates created.
As for the more subjective, non-economic damages, in addition to any treatment records you may obtain, it also helps to keep a diary of the problems that you have on a daily basis. Keep a written record of your physical discomfort and any limitations you may be experiencing. Take note of the mental or emotional impact your injuries, and the accident in general, have had on your daily life. Although it is not ideal, this may be the only records you have of these subjective damages.
If you have questions regarding accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (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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