How to Negotiate a Car Wreck Wrongful Death Claim
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When a person dies in a car wreck due to the actions of another driver, their immediate family–including their spouse, parents, and children–can bring a wrongful death claim against the responsible driver and their insurance company.
The first and most important thing to know about wrongful death claims is that they are very complicated. You will likely have to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company whose highest priority is maximizing its profit by minimizing your claim.
What to Expect in a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are emotional experiences involving very significant damages for all the potential beneficiaries. Because of the severity of these claims, when a wrongful death case goes to trial, jurors often either award very large damages against the responsible driver or find that the other driver was not actually responsible and award no damages.
This potential for a large jury award at trial is important to leverage with the insurance claims adjuster assigned to your case. If the adjuster chooses to not settle a wrongful death claim within the limits of the responsible driver’s insurance policy and a jury later awards a large award against the driver and the insurance company, the insurance company will likely blame the adjuster for the huge jury award it would then need to pay.
What Is the Stowers Doctrine?
Another important thing to know is that Texas has a doctrine known as the Stowers doctrine that can be used to put additional pressure on an insurance adjuster. Under this doctrine, if an insurance company does not settle a claim against its insured driver within the driver’s insurance policy limits, and a later jury award exceeds the driver’s policy limits, the driver can sue the insurance company to force it to pay the entire jury award.
This is important because insurance companies can easily be liable for far more than their insured driver’s insurance policy limits if they refuse to settle a claim. To take advantage of this though, you need to have all the potential wrongful death beneficiaries together, which includes the decedent’s spouse, parents, and all their children.
How Much Is My Wrongful Death Case Worth?
You will need to know if additional claims beyond the wrongful death are available. Many insurance policies have a per person and maximum per accident limit. For example, a policy may have liability limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 maximum per accident.
Despite multiple beneficiaries bringing a wrongful death claim, the insurance policy is only potentially liable up to the per person limit ($100,000) for the wrongful death claim. However, if your loved one was forced to suffer before their tragic death, their estate would have a survival claim for the mental anguish they suffered before their untimely death.
Additionally, if a close family member was in the car and witnessed the accident, that family member likely would have a bystander claim. Raising these additional claims could allow you to recover the full per accident maximum limits ($300,000) instead of just the per person limit ($100,000).
Our Car Accident Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help Your Family
At Zinda Law Group, our nationwide wrongful death attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to fully prosecute your case and help you pursue maximum compensation for medical bills, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and benefits, pain and suffering, and much more.
Our firm also believes your family should never have to worry about being able to afford excellent legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations, and why you pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your wrongful death case. That’s our No Fee Guarantee.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with our car accident wrongful death lawyers.
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