Personal Injury Lawyer Atlanta, Georgia

When Someone Dies Due to a Car Wreck Days, Weeks, or Months Later

Wrongful Death report and gavel in a court.

Georgia has some of the highest car accident death and injury rates in the U.S. People regularly speed, race red lights, and drive aggressively on the interstate and suburban thoroughfares.

Many near-accidents are avoided on a daily basis. Until they aren’t.

A catastrophic crash happens in the blink of an eye. Victims are thrown from their vehicle or left trapped and crushed inside their totaled car. They are often bloodied, bruised, disoriented, or unconscious by the time emergency personnel arrives at the scene of the accident.

Despite surviving the immediate impact of the crash and being rushed to an emergency trauma center like Grady or Gwinnett Medical Center, the victim eventually succumbs to their injuries within hours, days, sometimes weeks.

Death by an auto accident is a horrible tragedy that very often didn’t need to happen. Negligent drivers who cause such accidents must be held accountable.

If a loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash and they are in critical condition, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. They can help advise on the next steps you should take and shield you from the insurance company’s underhanded tactics.

Fatal Car Accident Injuries - Time to Death and Cause

A study looked at the time and cause of death from light vehicle crashes in the 1990s. The results showed that 46% of deaths occurred within 30 minutes, 24% between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours, and 90% within 24 hours.

Patients who made it to the emergency room were often lost due to major internal hemorrhaging or severe blood loss. Later deaths are attributed to infection or multiple organ failure. Delayed deaths after a car accident can happen several days or weeks after the incident.

The majority of car accident deaths were found to have been caused by trauma to the head and chest. Immediate deaths (those that happen in under 10 minutes) are primarily the result of severe injury to the brain, spinal cord, heart, or major blood vessel.

Other causes of traumatic death due to an auto accident include:

  • Cervical injuries
  • Aspiration/airway dysfunction
  • Pulmonary contusions
  • Visceral puncture wounds

What If You Already Filed a Personal Injury Claim?

In some cases, an accident victim with catastrophic injuries survives their injuries for several days or longer. During this time, they or a family member contacted and hired a personal injury attorney to represent them.

But just as the injury claim began to move forward, the victim passed away. What happens now?

The personal injury claim becomes a wrongful death claim. The claim shifts to either the surviving spouse, children (a guardian would be appointed for them), parents of the deceased, or the deceased’s estate if there is no surviving family. If the personal injury claim had originally been for a minor, the wrongful death claim remains with their parent or legal guardian.

A wrongful death claim settlement covers not only the damages from the accident (including medical care received prior to the victim’s death, property damage to the vehicle, and pain and suffering due to trauma) but also funeral costs, emotional suffering, and future lost wages.

If the at-fault driver acted recklessly, such as driving drunk or fleeing the police in a stolen vehicle, then you may be able to seek punitive damages. This type of damage punishes the wrongdoer in order to discourage this behavior in the future.

The purpose of a wrongful death claim for a car accident is to provide surviving family members with financial and emotional support after their loss. The lawsuit takes into account the value of the deceased’s life, the dreams and goals they wanted to accomplish, and how much they meant to their loved ones.

Proving Fault and Liability in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles responsibly. When a driver fails to make the safe choice and their negligence causes a fatal car accident, they are liable for the damages and pain they have caused.

Family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim when a loved one dies and the car accident was another driver’s fault. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance is responsible for paying the damages.

To prove that one or more other drivers caused the fatal accident, a wrongful death investigation must show the following:

  1. The defendant driver violated their duty of care (acted negligently) toward other people on the road.
  2. This negligence caused the victim’s death.
  3. What the amount of damages are that resulted from the crash and death.

Wrongful death claim settlements often pay out large sums of money. The insurance company may look for ways to undermine or deny your claim. This is why it is vital to gather solid evidence to support your wrongful death case.

Building a case, especially while grieving or working to support other family members, is difficult to do on your own. A lawyer who specializes in wrongful deaths can handle the litigation process, allowing the family time to mourn and heal from their trauma.

A Wrongful Death Attorney Protects Your Case

Wrongful death cases are often painful and overwhelming. We recommend reaching out to one of our Georgia wrongful death lawyers for help.

Our compassionate and understanding legal experts know how to build a strong case, gather crucial evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company’s lawyers and adjusters. Partnering with a wrongful death attorney means you can feel confident that your case is in good hands.

We know this is a difficult time. Your family deserves to be fully compensated for their loss. Our Atlanta wrongful death lawyers have over 30 years of experience handling deaths caused by car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and large truck accidents.

Get started with a free consultation. Call (770) 934-8000 or talk with one of our online associates now.

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