You have limited time to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident.The most devastating car accidents are those involving a death. In 2018, 201 people died in the state due to a car crash, according to the Nebraska Department of Transportation. If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to bring a claim against the person responsible. Though complex, wrongful death lawsuits are a critical step in protecting yourself financially after this type of loss.

Why Do Fatal Car Accidents Happen? 

When a fatal car accident occurs, many family members struggle to understand why this happened and if anything could have prevented it. Your car accident attorney can help you navigate why it occurred from the standpoint of legal responsibility. Possible car accident causes include:

  • Drunk or intoxicated drivers. Intoxication from drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs may lead to a driver unable to control his or her actions behind the wheel. Drunk driver car accidents can lead to wrongful death lawsuits. 
  • Negligent driver actions. Speeding or other forms of reckless driving can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit if the family can prove the driver was operating the vehicle in a negligent manner.
  • Vehicle defect. A faulty vehicle component, such as a tire, may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against a manufacturer if it causes the accident.

What Does Wrongful Death Mean?

A wrongful death claim, as defined under Nebraska law, is a death that occurs due to the “wrongful act, neglect, or default” of another person or party—specifically when this action or neglect would have allowed the victim to bring a claim of personal injury against the responsible party.

Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case in Nebraska?

Because this is a civil lawsuit, only a personal representative of the deceased individual or a family member directly impacted can file this claim. For example, if a parent dies in a car accident, their dependent son or daughter could file a claim. 

What Potential Damages Can Be Sought in a Nebraska Wrongful Death Claim?

When the court assigns liability in a Nebraska wrongful death lawsuit, civil damages can be awarded to the state or surviving family members. This may include:

  • Incurred medical expenses. Compensation may include coverage for all medical bills related to the car accident and resulting injury, including emergency room visits and specialist care.
  • Final expenses. This may include costs for burial and funeral.
  • Compensation loss. Compensation includes lost wages and benefits the deceased person would have likely earned. 
  • Loss of care. This may include loss of comfort, companionship, guidance, or emotional support due to the death.
  • Pain and suffering. In this case, pain and suffering refers to the loss the deceased individual faced as a result of the accident. Nebraska law does not allow family members to seek damages from losing a loved one in this manner. 

The judge or jury will factor in a person’s age, their home life, their dependents, as well as the wellbeing of family members when determining the amount of some claims. 

When Can You File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident?

Wrongful death claims after a car accident must be filed within two years of the person’s death according to the statute of limitations in the state. Waiting beyond this timeframe will eliminate claim opportunities.

Why You Need an Attorney for a Wrongful Death Claim

The complexities of filing a car accident wrongful death claim make it essential to hire a personal injury attorney.  Your attorney can help you gather evidence and calculate all losses you’ve suffered as a result of the car accident and ensure you meet all state-required deadlines. Contact the Law Office of Matthew A. Lathrop, PC, LLO, to learn more about how we can help you after such a devastating loss.