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When You Lose a Loved One in a Car Accident

 Posted on January 03,2016 in Car Accidents

car accident deaths, San Jose wrongful death lawyerWhen you lose a loved one, there is nothing that can ever fully heal the broken hearts they leave behind. When a family member is killed in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, the only thing the law can offer for the loss is monetary damages. Even though no amount of money will ever bring your loved one back, you and your family may need the money you recover from damages to cover bills and provide future economic security.

Wrongful Death Claims

When you bring a claim for damages after the death a family member it is called a wrongful death claim. In California, a wrongful death claim can be brought through the probate court or by a qualifying family member individually.

If the claim is brought as part of the estate process, the probate court will need to appoint someone to represent the estate and manage the litigation. Typically, this will be a close family member. Minors are not appointed by the probate court to represent the estate.

Deciding whether to proceed outside of probate or as part of the probate court process will depend on the specifics of the case. You should consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer with experience in wrongful death cases. In many instances, it is more efficient for a family member to bring a claim individually outside of the cumbersome probate process.

Types of Damages

Depending on the facts of the case, there are several different types of damages that can be brought in a wrongful death claim. These include:'

  • Lost earnings,
  • Loss of companionship, and
  • Pain and suffering of the family members.

Wrongful death claims may be brought against other drivers, car manufacturers, or even the designers of dangerous roadways. A skilled attorney will be able to evaluate a wrongful death claim and assess who is responsible for the accident.

Special Issues Involving Minors

If the survivors of the deceased are minors, there are several special issues to consider. Someone under the age of 18 cannot be appointed to oversee a wrongful death case. If money is collected as part of a wrongful death case, it is not usually handed over to a minor. 

Instead, a blocked account will generally be set up at a financial institution. Withdrawals will not be able to be made from the blocked account without a court order, or until the child turns 18. When large settlements or verdicts are awarded to minors, a structured settlement is often used. With the approval of the court, an annuity is purchased on the child’s behalf, which will pay out the large sum in small increments over a number of years. The exact payment schedule and structure will be approved by the court and may vary from case to case. Structured settlements and blocked accounts must also be setup in accordance with strict IRS regulations.

If you have lost a family member in a car accident, you need to speak with a seasoned San Jose personal injury attorney right away. Call the Law Office of John J. Garvey, III today at 408-293-7777 to schedule a consultation. You may only have a short period of time to take action.



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