Across the state of Wisconsin, between 450 and 600 people lose their lives annually in car accidents. This is a sobering statistic and even more sobering when you realize the primary reasons for accidents in Wisconsin. Some of the most common causes of accidents include:
- Driving under the influence
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Driving while distracted
Losing someone in a car accident is bad enough but when you consider that many accidents could have been prevented had the other driver acted reasonably, it’s even harder to accept.
Options for loved ones after fatal accidents
If you’ve lost a loved one you may not know what your legal rights and options are after a fatal car accident. Contacting Wisconsin personal injury attorney can help but in general, you have the right to file a civil lawsuit. This can be particularly important if your loved one was a primary breadwinner or caregiver at home; you want to find a way to ensure financial security for your family.
The person who is responsible for the accident may be facing criminal charges. These charges are separate from a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death suits in Wisconsin may be filed for up to three years following the date of the accident. It’s best to talk with a Wisconsin fatal car accident lawyer because in some cases, this date may be in question, particularly if the victim lived for several weeks after the accident.
Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed by a spouse, children, domestic partners or by a guardian on behalf of a spouse or child. In some cases, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may also file suit on behalf of the heirs of the estate.
Damages following a fatal car accident
While punitive damages are excluded in Wisconsin, the victim’s family or estate may sue for medical bills, cost of funeral and burial, wages lost by the decedent and loss of companionship. The best way to determine if you have a case is to determine whether the victim could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they survived. If there is clear proof the other driver was at fault you probably have the grounds for a wrongful death suit.
Why hire a Wisconsin fatal car accident lawyer?
It’s perfectly natural to think you can file a lawsuit on your own but when you’re dealing with a wrongful death case, you want someone who is going to be looking out for your best interests. Chances are your first call after the death of a loved one will be the responsible driver’s insurance company. Make no mistake about it, the insurance adjuster who contacts you will not be looking out for your best interest. In nearly all cases, insurance company employees plug specific information about the accident into a computer program and the program provides a settlement value. This is the minimum amount your claim is worth as a rule of thumb.
Keep in mind, insurance companies collect premiums from clients to enhance their income. The less paid out in claims, the better the profits look to shareholders. This means it is in the company’s best interest to get you to settle for as little as possible. Chances are, if you’re representing yourself, they’re counting on the fact you will likely accept any settlement offered. Don’t do it – hire a skilled personal injury attorney who understands how to deal with insurance companies and is willing to fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.
Losing a loved one because of negligent act is horrifying and we understand no amount of money will ever make up for that loss. However, we also understand there are medical bills, unexpected funeral and burial expenses and the fact that your family will now have to make financial decisions with one less contributor to the household. We can help; contact Harnitz Law Office, LLC today at 920-456-9933 to schedule a free consultation. We’ll make sure you understand what rights you have and help you make a decision as to how to proceed.