A car accident is a regrettable occurrence. Sadly, it occurs so often. In the US, more than 38,000 people die annually from car accidents. Some survive long enough to receive medical treatment, only to succumb to their wounds later. Others die at the scene of the accidents.
Death by accident is challenging to process for families of victims. It is also a traumatic experience. Most times, victims’ relatives do not know how to proceed or the legal action they ought to take. Understanding what you can do or what might happen can make it easier to bear. If you decide to file an accident claim or lawsuit following a loved one’s death, our Atlanta auto accident lawyers can represent you.
Do All Crash Victims Die at Accident Scenes?
Sometimes, victims might die at the scene of the accident. When that happens, it’s called a sudden death accident. It is usually a result of blunt force trauma or high-speed impact. Other times, it is an eventual death accident. That’s to say the victim survived the accident initially but died while going to the hospital or at the hospital. Both deaths are considered accident fatalities.
Will the At-Fault Driver Face Criminal Charges?
Not always. Many grieving survivors of accident fatalities find it difficult to process that the other driver will not face criminal charges.
For an at-fault driver to face criminal charges, the investigating agency checks for whether:
- The Driver Was Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs: Most fatal drugged or drunk driving accidents often lead to criminal charges.
- There Was a Violation of Traffic Laws or Reckless Driving: Every driver has a duty of care for other road users. When that duty gets violated, the chances are that criminal charges will follow.
- Whether the Accident Was an Act of God: An accident gets considered an act of God if external factors caused the accident. E.g., hails, storms, or other natural disasters.
If the at-fault driver is liable, it may lead to a vehicular manslaughter prosecution. The onus lies with your district attorney to prosecute the other driver or not. This is usually after gathering evidence from the accident scene and moments leading to the accident.
What Can the Survivors of Victims of Car Accident Fatalities Do?
Ultimately, the decision lies with your district attorney to decide whether a driver is liable or not for an accident fatality. They decide after looking at all the evidence presented. However, there are other things that the survivors of the accident victims can do.
The survivors may decide to file for a civil wrongful death action. Survivors can file a wrongful death claim regardless of whether the fault party faces a criminal charge. They can also pursue civil action even if a criminal trial was unsuccessful.
Note that before civil action can commence, there are considerations. One of such considerations is the presence of a party with legal liability. That is to say; there has to be someone wholly or partially responsible for the accident based on their actions. You can only bring financial settlement claims against the liable party.
However, there are times the perceived fault driver is not the person liable for the crash. Here, your attorney would look for other likely parties whose negligence ultimately caused the car accident. Some of such likely parties:
The Vehicle Manufacturer or Auto Mechanic
Sometimes, defects in a car can cause mechanical faults that may have contributed to the accident. Also, auto-mechanics may have done or failed to do something that contributed to the accident. If either of these gets established, the manufacturer of the car or the auto-mechanic may be liable.
Businesses Serving Alcohol
Dram shop law applies in Georgia, and it prohibits businesses from serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated patron. If an accident happens and proof exists that a business over-served the driver, that company may become liable. Dram shop laws apply to bars, restaurants, taverns, other commercial establishments, and even private residences.
If any commercial vehicle driver is liable for a fatal accident, their employers may be responsible. This applies mainly when the employer knows that the driver has a history of impaired driving or recklessness and still allows the person to drive.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help?
Fatalities from accidents often leave the victim’s loved ones in a mournful state. Frequently, they get too traumatized to take the proper steps. Hence the need for an experienced and empathic car accident attorney. If you or a loved one is an accident fatality survivor, speak to an experienced attorney from Calvin Smith Law to get the proper compensation.