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Can You Sue for Wrongful Death in a Motorcycle Accident Claim?

Given the road’s dangers and a motorcyclist’s vulnerability, crashes involving motorcycles are among the most deadly automobile accidents. For the families and friends of the loved ones left behind, the aftermath is often financially and emotionally devastating. While there is little the court can do to alleviate the pain of losing someone you love, personal injury law does allow you a space to sue the at-fault party for the financial damages caused by the accident. The first step is to talk to a wrongful death attorney about how to recover compensation.

When Does a Wrongful Death Claim Apply?

To determine whether or not you have a valid wrongful death claim, you should first ask yourself if the deceased person had a solid personal injury claim. Was someone else at fault for their accident? If they were still alive, could they file a lawsuit to claim compensation for their losses? Auto accidents caused by someone else’s reckless or negligent behavior typically qualify the victims for recovery of damages. Therefore, the responsible party should still pay if the victim dies from the injuries incurred.

The Burden of Proof in a Wrongful Death Case

As with any personal injury case, the burden of proving negligence falls to the plaintiff. Additionally, there are three main components in proving negligence:

  1. You must prove the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care on the road. For example, if the at-fault party is another driver, they have a responsibility to follow the rules of the road to keep other drivers safe.
  2. You must prove the defendant breached that duty of care, directly resulting in the accident.
  3. You must prove the accident directly caused the injuries that resulted in the death of your loved one.

Depending on the nature of the accident and who was at fault, proving negligence can be simple or complex. For example, you may find it challenging to prove that a motorcycle manufacturer distributed a defective product, which caused the accident that killed your loved one. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can help you understand and collect the evidence necessary to back that claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit in a motorcycle accident claim varies from state to state. Some states limit the ability to file a wrongful death claim to a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. However, most states allow the following to file:

  • The deceased person’s surviving spouse
  • The deceased person’s surviving children, biological and adoptive, over the age of 18 years old
  • The deceased person’s surviving minor children under the representation of the surviving parent/spouse
  • Any stepchildren financially dependent on the deceased and under the age of 18 at the time of their death
  • A legal representative of the estate

If the deceased has no legal heirs to their estate at the time of their passing, most states will allow other blood relatives to file a wrongful death suit. For example, siblings, grandparents, uncles, and aunts could potentially file a claim.

What Expenses Could Compensation From a Wrongful Death Case Cover?

The damages from any personal injury vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. The damages you can recover typically fall under the umbrella of compensatory damages. These include the financial losses associated with the accident and injuries, as well as the emotional and psychological losses caused by the accident and injuries. In rare cases, the court may award the plaintiff punitive damages.

Compensatory Losses

Economic compensatory damages refer to direct financial losses. For example, you may seek recovery of the following:

  • The cost of medical bills related to the treatment provided before death, including ambulance expenses, the cost of in-patient and out-patient treatment, medications and surgeries, emergency room services, and any other medical-related expenses
  • The value of goods or services the deceased would have provided
  • The loss of benefits, such as healthcare, inheritance, and retirement funds
  • The loss of the deceased person’s present and future income
  • The cost of funerals services
  • The cost of burial or cremation

Additionally, you can claim recovery of non-economic damages, which are related to the emotional trauma caused by the sudden and preventable loss of your loved one. Examples of these damages include:

These damages are not as easy to assign a monetary value as economic damages. However, if you choose to hire an attorney, they can help you understand the value of your case and what your claim is worth.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages refer to a punishment inflicted on the defendant for gross negligence, maliciousness, or especially egregious behavior. This is rare in motorcycle accident cases, but some circumstances call for further action from the court to punish the at-fault party by forcing them to provide the plaintiff with more money than the compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Additionally, the court intends the punishment to deter this type of behavior in the future.

The amount of punitive damages available in a wrongful death case depends on state laws. For example, New York places no cap on punitive damages. Utah uses a more case-by-case approach, typically basing punitive damages on the value of the defendant’s assets, the losses the plaintiff suffered, and the type of misconduct. On the other hand, Texas does not allow punitive damages to exceed twice the value of economic damages.

How Could a Wrongful Death Attorney Help With Your Case?

Dealing with the aftermath of a deadly motorcycle accident is devastating for the family members who lost a loved one. However, with the help of a wrongful death attorney, you can get the advice and compensation you need without going through the tedious and sometimes painful elements of the legal process. Some ways a wrongful death accident lawyer can help your case include:

  • Provide you with legal advice throughout the process
  • Help you adequately value your claim
  • Investigate the accident with the help of experts when necessary
  • Provide you with legal representation at no upfront cost
  • Protect your rights during negotiations with the insurance companies and the court process
  • File all the paperwork required by the court
  • Collect all the necessary evidence to prove your claim

One of the most essential components of being a wrongful death attorney is the emotional support they provide the deceased’s family. This is a difficult time, but an attorney acts as a professional presence during proceedings and a personal friend otherwise.

At Fielding Law, we understand the traumatic effect caused by the unexpected loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, financial compensation can do little to lessen the devastation you feel. However, our wrongful death attorneys will do what it takes to help alleviate the financial struggles that follow a severe motorcycle accident. The statute of limitations on wrongful death cases is typically between 1-2 years. Therefore, the sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get started on your case. Call Fielding Law today at (877) 880-4090 or complete an online case evaluation. We charge no upfront fees, so you have nothing to lose from hearing how we can help you.