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Navigating Wrongful Death Claims after a Fatal Car Accident in CT

Nothing can undo the pain caused by a loved one’s death. However, that doesn’t mean that the person responsible should not be held accountable for the damage they have caused. While no legal action can bring your loved one back, financial compensation can help survivors cover final expenses, settle debts, and prepare for the loss of the decedent’s income.

An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims

Per Connecticut law, a wrongful death claim holds a party accountable for the injuries they cause that result in death. With this type of claim, the onus is on the plaintiff to prove the other party’s negligence or recklessness. This is a civil suit that is entirely separate from any criminal proceeding that may have been initiated because of the death. However, criminal charges and convictions can serve as evidence to help substantiate a civil claim.

The executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate must be the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim. In the event that the decedent does not have estate planning documents that name an administrator or executor, the court must name someone.

Accidents Most Likely to Cause Fatalities

Car accidents are a common cause of death in the United States. The most dangerous type of crash is a head-on crash; more than half of all car accident fatalities occur in head-on crashes. Other types of crashes that are associated with high fatality rates include rollover crashes and T-bone collisions.

In the vast majority of fatal car accidents, the crash can be traced to a driver’s negligence or error in judgment. Common causes of fatal crashes include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Failure to adhere to posted signs and warnings
  • Impaired driving

What to Do After a Loved One’s Death in a Car Accident

The death of a loved one can turn your world upside down, and it’s likely that pursuing legal action is low on your list of priorities. However, it is crucial to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. After a fatal car crash, you must move quickly to preserve crucial evidence and consult experts. Your attorney may work with investigators, forensic specialists, and other experts to recreate the accident.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a car accident death in Connecticut is two years. If you wait that long to begin building a case, though, your attorney will be at a serious disadvantage. After two years, it may be difficult or even impossible to track down witnesses or get their statements.

Evidence may become contaminated or unavailable for testing, making it harder to prove liability or cause of death. We know it is difficult to focus on anything other than grieving and picking up the pieces after a loved one’s death, but if someone else was responsible for it, make it a top priority to secure a personal injury attorney you can trust.

Possible Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases may be able to pursue several types of compensation from the responsible party and their insurance company. Your attorney will explain different options to you and figure out a reasonable settlement amount. Types of compensation in a wrongful death case include:

  • Loss of the loved one’s earning potential
  • Final expenses, including burial and funeral costs
  • The family members’ pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses related to the accident incurred by the decedent prior to their death

There are many factors that might impact how much you can ask for. For example, consider the loss of the decedent’s income. The amount awarded to the plaintiff may depend on the decedent’s level of education, salary prior to death, and projected career path prior to death.

Connecticut also allows plaintiffs to recover double or triple damages in certain circumstances. This is only an option if the liable driver displayed a reckless disregard for traffic laws and safety at the time of the crash. This recklessness must have been a substantial factor in the accident and the victim’s death.

Contact APEX Law Firm, LLC for Help with Your Wrongful Death Case

The experienced attorneys at APEX Law Firm, LLC handle wrongful death claims in a manner that respects the family’s grief and healing process while still aggressively pursuing compensation and holding the other party responsible for the damage caused. We understand the difficulties you face after a loved one suffers a wrongful death, and we are dedicated to helping you take the next step forward. Contact us at 860-385-8360 to schedule a consultation.

5 Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident

Getting into a car accident can be among the most traumatic experiences a person has to go through. A collision with another vehicle causes an immediate state change. Your heart rate accelerates, and your mind begins racing in numerous directions as you try to figure out what all this means.

The first thing you need to do is to take a deep breath, calm down, and assess the situation. The steps you take immediately after a car accident will greatly impact your health and well-being, the well-being of others who were involved, and your legal right to recover compensation (if you suffered any injuries from the accident).

There are several things you should do right after an auto accident, here are five of the most important:

Call 911

The first priority after a car accident is to secure the scene and make sure everyone is safe. If anyone appears to be injured (including yourself), call 911 right away to summon an ambulance to the scene. It is important to note that not all injuries are apparent right away. Even some injuries that are serious and life threatening may not be immediately detected. One common example is internal bleeding. If there is any possibility that someone was hurt, get prompt medical help. It is better to be safe than sorry.

When you call 911, they will most likely call the police for you as well. This is another essential step, because the police need to be called if anyone was injured. The police will make sure the vehicles are moved to the side of the road and out of danger, and they will speak with witnesses and compile an official report describing what happened. The police report is most often used as the basis for determining who was responsible for the accident.

Obtain Extensive Documentation

The police will produce an accident report, but you should have your own report as well. If you are able, take detailed notes describing the accident while everything is fresh in your mind. You should also take as many photos as possible from various angles to provide visual evidence showing how the collision happened. If you do not have anything to write with, use the voice recorder on your smartphone to create an audio report that you can transcribe later on.

Exchange Information with Other Parties Involved

One of the least pleasant but necessary steps after a car accident is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s). When you do this, be calm, courteous, and polite. Give them all of the required information and obtain the information you need from them as well. During this exchange, it is extremely important that you do not apologize or admit fault in any way. Just stick to the facts and let the experts sort out who was responsible.

Secure Statements and Contact Information from Witnesses

If there are any individuals who saw the accident, be sure to get statements and contact information from them. Eyewitness testimony is a very important factor that can help substantiate the facts and evidence in a car accident case, so try to secure this information while the witnesses are at the scene. Memories tend to fade over time, and as people go forward with their lives, they may not be as motivated to help you with your case.

Many times, a witness will be willing to provide a video or audio statement, which you can record using the video camera or voice recorder on your smartphone.  Take advantage of this option if it is available, but at the very least, try to write down what they say and obtain their contact information for later follow-up.

Get in Touch with an Experienced Connecticut Personal Injury Lawyer

Those who are involved in a car accident are required to file a claim with the insurance company. When this happens, you will most likely be contacted by an insurance adjuster or another company official within a short period of time. Before speaking with the adjuster or anyone else from the insurance company about the accident, it is absolutely critical that you speak with a skilled auto accident lawyer, so you fully understand your legal rights and options. 

It is important to understand that the primary motivation of the insurance company is to pay out as little as possible for your accident. As such, their interests are not aligned with yours. When you have been injured in an auto accident, you need a skilled advocate in your corner who is looking out for your best interests and who is willing to fight for every dollar of compensation you deserve.

Contact our office today at (860) 900-0900 or through our website contact form.

The Top 10 Causes of Auto Accidents

While our motor vehicles appear to be getting safer, with an array of advanced technological features, the rate of injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads continues to increase. In 2015 alone, 2.44 million people were injured and over 35,000 people were killed. The fatality rate is up 7.2 percent, the largest increase in nearly 50 years.

Even a minor accident on the road can be costly, but the loss of work, property, and companionship of loved ones from major accidents is simply devastating. Whether you’re a new driver or someone with decades experience behind the wheel, vigilance and prevention are the keys to staying safe. Here are the top ten causes of auto accidents on U.S. roads.

1. Distracted Driving

The number one cause of auto accidents in the United States is distracted driving. Drivers increasingly feel the need to text, surf the web, make phone calls, eat, read, and groom themselves while driving. The impact on auto accident rates has been deadly and its effects continue to grow each year.

2. Speeding

Pushing the limits is fun for some and feels like a necessity for others who are running behind schedule. Unfortunately speeding is the second most common cause of automobile accidents. When you speed, your reaction time is diminished, which makes it more difficult to prevent a dangerous or even deadly crash.

3. Drunk Driving

While drunk driving is the third-most common cause of vehicle-related crashes, it remains one of the most deadly. Nationwide, about one-third (29%) of all traffic fatalities are due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Current estimates tell us that there are around 300,000 drunk driving incidents in the U.S. daily. If you’ve had anything to drink, find a designated driver or use alternative transportation.

4. Driver Fatigue

According to the NHTSA, sleepy drivers account for as many as 100,000 accidents each year and approximately 2.5% of all fatal crashes. The risk of these crashes becomes greater between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., but afternoon crashes aren’t uncommon. Experts recommend taking frequent breaks on long trips and sharing driving responsibilities.

5. Reckless Driving

Aggressive or simply careless driving habits can lead to devastating accidents. Drivers who switch lanes too quickly, tailgate and race other cars on the road are putting themselves and others at risk. These drivers are often impatient in traffic and could exhibit signs of road rage.

6. Weather

Adverse weather conditions affect the condition of our roads, often making them more dangerous. Rain, ice, and snow can create dangerous surfaces for vehicles that cause auto accidents. Extra care should be taken when these conditions are present.

7. Failure to Stop

Too many drivers fail to adhere to simple rules of the road, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs, and yielding when appropriate. This disregard of rules can lead to dangerous side impact collisions, causing serious injury or even death.

8. Teenage Drivers

Few drivers begin their driving journey as safe and conscientious vehicle operators. This comes with time and experience, so it’s no surprise that teenage drivers are often involved in accidents. Having teens take a defensive driving course can help as well as educating them on the risks of distracted driving.

9. Night Driving

When the lights go out, hazards are more difficult to detect. In fact, driving at night nearly doubles your chance of being involved in a car accident. Drivers who go out after sunset should take extra care with reduced speed and a greater sense of awareness.

10. Design Defects

Believe it or not, your vehicle could cause an auto accident due to a design defect. If you’ve received any manufacturers recall notices, be sure to have them addressed right away. Defective parts and systems have been known to cause serious accidents in the past.

When driving, always be alert and pay attention to both your surroundings and traffic laws. Obviously, your life is at risk if you drive in an unsafe manner. A majority of crashes are due to human error. However, just because you are careful on the roads, there’s no assurance that others are doing the same.

If you are in a car accident that may not be your fault, you could be held responsible for damages caused by someone else. In these cases, you should protect yourself by filing a car accident claim and consulting with an attorney who specializes in auto accidents.  If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a crash in Connecticut, contact the experienced and effective personal injury attorneys at The APEX Law Firm for a consultation, in  Hartford County at (860) 900-0900 or by using our website contact form.