Oklahoma City Fatal Car Accidents Lawyer
Even though fatal accidents are far more serious than accidents that only cause injury, many of the same criteria for pursuing damages in a typical personal injury case also exist in a fatal car accident case.
An Oklahoma City fatal car accidents lawyer could help the families of the deceased pursue negligent drivers and their insurance companies for compensation following a death. A compassionate attorney could explain the nuances of state law that make these cases unique, measure the losses of the deceased and their family, and pursue a claim for all appropriate compensation.
When is a Defendant Liable After a Fatal Car Crash?
Courts in Oklahoma City must always assign blame following a car accident; fatal car accidents are no different. The fact that a person dies as a result of the accident has no bearing on this fact. Indeed, Oklahoma Statute 17 §1053(A) states that any wrongful death claim is appropriate when the facts of the case would have allowed the decedent to bring a personal injury case had they survived the incident.
A defendant is financially liable when their driving violates a rule of the road and results in an accident. Common examples include tailgating, speeding, and failing to yield. An Oklahoma City fatal car accidents lawyer could help the families of the deceased to investigate the driving of defendants to name them as negligent drivers and to demonstrate that the cause of the accident led to the death.
Special Legal Considerations for Fatal Car Collision Cases
While proving fault may be somewhat straightforward after a fatal car accident, other aspects of the law contribute to making these cases complicated. The most obvious change from a common personal injury case is that the would-be plaintiff is now deceased. This requires courts in these cases to make many special legal considerations for the rights of the decedent’s estate and who may pursue claims on behalf of those people.
Only one person may serve as a plaintiff in a fatal car accident case; OS 17 §1053(A) states that only a personal representative of the deceased may pursue a claim. This may be a person named in a will, but if the decedent dies intestate, the court may assign a person to serve in this role. The representative must bring the claim on behalf of the decedent’s estate, even if they are not a member.
The law also limits which damages a fatal car accident case may claim. Under OS 17 §1053(B), courts must strictly limit these damages to:
- Medical and burial expenses
- The loss of consortium to a surviving spouse
- The mental pain and anguish of the deceased
- Pecuniary loss to survivors in the form of income now lost because of the death
- Grief and loss of children and parents of the decedent
While this statute may limit the forms of available compensation, another statute limits the total amount of compensation. OS 23 §61.2(B) outlines a maximum limit of $350,000 in non-economic damages in any personal injury case.
If the court determines that the death is the result of grossly negligent activity, however, the court may remove that cap. A defendant in a fatal car accident case may be found to be grossly negligent for driving while drunk or driving at night without headlights, for example, which could lead to the removal of the damages cap. A fatal car accidents lawyer in Oklahoma City could help to navigate the often-complex legal landscape around a fatal car wreck case.
An Oklahoma City Fatal Car Accidents Attorney Could Help You and Your Family
Experiencing the loss of a loved one after a car accident is always a traumatic event. Not only will people need to come to terms with the emotional aspect of the loss, but the death may also leave a family in dire economic straits. Medical and funeral costs may be high, and the loss of income formerly brought by the deceased may leave a family without means to support itself.
A fatal car accident claim for damages may bring essential relief. Defendants in these actions are liable if their negligent driving resulted in an accident that caused the death. This applies even if the defendant did not intend to cause any harm. Potential damages in these cases can include payment for medical bills, economic damages, and even for grief.
An Oklahoma City fatal car accidents lawyer may be able to help you. They can handle your case with compassion and skill to help make things right following your loss. From the initial investigation into the incident, to measuring your losses, to protecting your rights from aggressive insurance companies, to taking your case to court, an Oklahoma City fatal car wreck lawyer stands ready to fight for you. Contact a lawyer today to schedule an appointment.