When someone is killed in a car accident due to another driver's negligence, the grieving family isn't just facing the legal issues surrounding a wrongful death claim. They're also facing the tremendous emotional issues that surround losing someone they love.
While it's understandable that a victim's loved ones may want to take time to grieve before considering filing a claim, time is of the essence for a variety of reasons.
In Polson, Montana, a collision occurred when a teenage driver traveled into the oncoming lane of traffic, striking another vehicle. The occupants of that vehicle, an elderly man and woman, were both killed.
In Montana, if a person's negligence causes the death of another, a representative of the person who died may file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death damages are not awarded based on the expenses sustained by the victim, but rather the damages inflicted on the victim's heirs due to the victim's death. Some of those damages might include loss of consortium, comfort and society, as well as the loss of guidance or training that a victim could have provided to his or her heirs if the accident had not occurred.
Car accidents are only one situation in which wrongful death claims arise. Others include gas explosions, oil rig or other worksite accidents, product liability and medical malpractice. In Montana, the statute of limitations in wrongful death cases is three years. After that statute of limitations has passed, a claim can no longer be filed no matter how compelling the case is. It is important for family members to understand that the sooner the process of filing a claim begins, the more reliable the evidence can be.
Source: KBZK-TV, "Two people killed in crash near Polson," Justine Judge, July 10, 2013