Driving was down in 2020 due to COVID lockdowns. But the National Safety Council (NSC) reports an alarming increase in traffic fatalities. Deaths involving motor vehicles rose 8% last year, according to the NSC.
Car accidents are often emotionally and physically challenging. In the rare event that someone dies from an accident, those involved may not know what the next steps are or how to help those who are unable to help themselves. There are two types of claims that can be filed while a person passes away due to an accident – wrongful death, and survival.
Wrongful death claims focus on the surviving family members of the deceased person. Not only will a family feel the loss of their loved one, but they may also lose income and support due to the passing of their family member. Wrongful death claims give these individuals the ability to pay funeral expenses and outstanding medical bills of the deceased.
A survival claim focuses on the deceased person’s suffering rather than the family members and loved ones. This claim is effectively what the deceased could have claimed had they not passed away from the accident. Medical expenses lost wages, and pain-and-suffering would be components of a survival claim. When the case settles, the funds are disbursed through the estate instead of to an individual. Moving forward after these types of accidents may require help from acquaintances or loved ones.
Here are ways you can help friends or loved ones involved in a fatal accident.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
Picture evidence is significant in court. Take pictures of all vehicles involved and the conditions surrounding the accident. Include where the accident took place, street signs, and photos of visibility, especially if hills and curves are involved.
Contact a Professional
Contacting a personal injury attorney is one of the first steps you should take. Most personal injury attorneys will go to the scene themselves to take pictures and provide additional information to you and the victims’ families. Be sure to ask if the attorney covers wrongful death cases, as some attorneys do not handle these cases.
Be the Point of Contact
Depending on the case’s circumstances, you can be a point of contact to the law firm. Because of the distress of being in a wreck with a fatality, your help makes sure paperwork or other information does not fall through the cracks. The attorney will speak to the insurance companies and medical providers.
If You Were a Passenger
Your attorney will be one of your best resources if you are a passenger in a fatal car accident. They will guide you through the legal process so that you can focus on your health and well-being. They can also provide information about different medical providers depending on what you need, including mental health professionals.
Be Careful What You Say
Tensions run high after a car accident, even more so when death is involved. The chaos often leads to emotional outbursts. For example, a driver blurts out, “I’m sorry. I did not see you.” These comments, if heard by witnesses, may become evidence in a case.
It is best to say as little as possible. Never suggest you are at fault. You are legally obligated to exchange your driver’s license and car insurance information. But beyond that, only respond to law enforcement officers about the facts of the incident.