woman-kneeling-before-roadside-memorialDespite aggressive public safety campaigns, drunk driving remains a serious problem across Iowa. Every day, irresponsible motorists get behind the wheel after drinking, risking their lives and those of everyone around them. 

Navigating grief is never easy. However, the pain of losing a loved one in a drunk driving accident can be incredibly overwhelming. Families often struggle to overcome intense emotional pain and unexpected financial pressure.

 The attorney and staff at the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, understand that no award or settlement can compensate you for your loved one’s tragic death. However, a wrongful death lawsuit could help you seek justice, get financial compensation, and honor your loved one’s legacy. 

The Dangers of Drunk Driving

Drunk driving has been characterized as an epidemic. In Iowa, drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic-related fatalities. 

Compared to sober motorists, drunk drivers may suffer from: 

  • Poor decision-making
  • Impaired reflexes 
  • Difficulty gauging speed and distance 

Even drivers below the legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC) are significantly more likely to be involved in an accident. 

Taking Action After a Drunk Driving Crash

There is no guarantee that a criminal drunk driving case will end in a conviction, and even if the drunk driver is convicted, the criminal case will not end in financial compensation for your family’s tragic loss. 

However, you have the right to consult with an experienced Iowa wrongful death lawyer about filing a civil case. The burden of proof is different in a wrongful death case than in a criminal case, and you may be able to recover wrongful death damages. You can begin protecting your rights by taking the steps outlined below. 

Preserve Evidence 

If a suspected drunk driver killed your loved one, try to preserve any evidence that could be relevant to your claim. Relevant evidence could include: 

  • Police reports 
  • Medical bills 
  • Autopsy results 
  • Insurance bills and receipts 
By preserving evidence of your economic losses and emotional pain, you put yourself in a better position to recover financial damages. 

File a Case Within the State of Limitations

Like every state, Iowa has a strict statute of limitations applicable to all wrongful death claims. 

In most cases, you have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Iowa. If you try to file a wrongful death case after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will likely dismiss your case and you won’t recover any financial compensation.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney 

Wrongful death lawsuits can be high-stakes affairs for everyone involved. Even if you have a seemingly straightforward case, insurance companies often create barriers to recovery, doing everything they can to minimize their financial liability. 

However, you do not have to pursue a wrongful death case alone. The Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, has a reputation for providing compassionate and caring service

We could help you take action against a drunk driver by: 

  •  Listening to your story
  • Investigating the causes and circumstances of the accident 
  • Assessing your damages and evaluating your family’s long-term economic needs 
  • Negotiating a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company 
  • Taking your wrongful death case to court

Reasons to File a Drunk Driving Wrongful Death Claim

Even if you have already considered filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault driver, contacting an attorney and initiating a claim can be an emotionally charged decision. Many families fear that taking a wrongdoer to court will make it seem like they are trying to profit from a loved one’s death. 

However, wrongful death claims can have repercussions that go far beyond securing a settlement

Regain Your Financial Independence 

Every settlement and every award is different, but your family could receive compensation for a wide range of damages. These damages could include, but are not limited to, the following:  

  • Funeral fees 
  • Burial expenses 
  • End-of-life medical expenses 
  • Lost income 
  • Loss of companionship 
  • Emotional pain and suffering

Iowa does not currently cap damages in most drunk driver-related wrongful death claims, meaning that your family could receive the compensation needed to both honor a loved one’s legacy and begin rebuilding your lives. 

Send a Message 

In criminal court, prosecutors must convince a judge or jury that a drunk driver is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. This is a high standard, and it often leads to permissive plea bargains—plea bargains that could see a wrongdoer escape accountability. Even when a conviction seems guaranteed, a judge cannot always award the restitution needed to restore a family’s financial condition. 

Wrongful death claims, in contrast, are filed in civil court. In civil court, there is a lower standard for liability. Under most circumstances, plaintiffs must establish that the at-fault motorist was “more likely than not” to have caused their loved one’s death. 

For many families, a wrongful death lawsuit is their only opportunity to hold both a drunk driver responsible for a loved one’s death and send a message to other drivers that drunk drivers are held accountable for their actions. 

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