Wrongful Death Lawyer
Motorcycle accidents are about 26 times more likely than car accidents to cause fatal injuries. The reasons are obvious. Car occupants are surrounded by steel. Cars are equipped with airbags and restraint systems. The front end of a car is designed to crumple like an accordion in a front-end collision. In contrast, a motorcycle rider is protected only by a helmet and the gear that the rider had chosen to wear.
Helmets save lives. We always recommend that motorcyclists wear them. But no helmet can prevent deadly head injuries caused by high-speed collisions. And no matter how well constructed a helmet might be, it won’t protect the rider from crushed organs, internal bleeding, or other fatal injuries below the head.
Motorcycle accident deaths are tragic. When they happen, family members suffer unimaginable pain. When the deceased rider was a breadwinner, families also suffer financial losses.
A wrongful death lawyer can help family members recover compensation for their losses. Family members know that the accident victim would not want them to lose the income that the victim would have provided. While no amount of compensation can restore a life, compensation also helps family members obtain closure by assuring that some measure of justice is done.
Family Members Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim After a Motorcycle Accident
Each state has created its own wrongful death statute. The wrongful death law in one state can be quite different from the wrongful death law in a neighboring state.
Those differences include a state’s approach to the persons who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The one similarity among all state laws is that a friendship with the deceased victim does not authorize the friend to sue for wrongful death compensation. States require the claim to be brought by a family member or by the victim’s estate.
In some states, the claim must be initiated by the victim’s estate. The person who administers the estate — known as a personal representative in some states and an executor in others — is the only person who is authorized to bring the claim. Since that person has a duty to act in the best interests of the estate, a personal representative must usually bring a wrongful death claim if the claim has merit.
In other states, the claim must be initiated by a family member. In those states, a spouse is always authorized to bring the claim. If the accident victim was divorced when he or she died, the victim’s minor children bring the claim.
In some states, adult children are also authorized to bring the claim. Parents, the children of deceased children, stepchildren, and siblings may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit with the help of a wrongful death lawyer, depending on state law. Some states require those relatives to demonstrate that they were financially dependent on the deceased victim. A few states allow dependent minors to bring the claim, even if they were not the children or stepchildren of the deceased victim.
When a state allows only one family member to bring the claim, that person typically has a duty to assure that proceeds are distributed to family members who are deemed eligible to receive them under state law. When an estate brings the claim, the proceeds are distributed according to the victim’s Will or pursuant to the state law that governs the distribution of property owned by people who die without a Will.
Who Can Bring a Survival Case After a Motorcycle Accident?
The victim’s estate brings a survival lawsuit (sometimes called a survivor lawsuit) to recover compensation for the pain and suffering that the motorcycle accident victim experienced before death. Any medical expenses incurred while the victim was still living are included in the claim for compensation.
In many cases, a survival claim and a wrongful death claim will be brought together. Family members and the estate’s personal representative should try to work together to maximize the compensation that is available for everyone who is entitled to receive it.