In wrongful death lawsuits, two things come into play: comparative and contributory negligence. These dictate how the responsibility for the accident will be assigned to the parties involved.
Under the contributory negligence rule, surviving beneficiaries are not able to recover any damages if the deceased contributed in any manner to his or her death. This means that if a driver ran a red light, crashing head-on into another vehicle and killed the person in the second car, and was able to prove the person in the second car (the deceased) was on their phone and not paying attention, the surviving beneficiaries of that second driver are not eligible to receive compensation.
Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia follow this contributory negligence rule.
In states with comparative negligence laws, a comparison of faults is decided. Beneficiaries of the deceased receive a percentage of the final award that corresponds to the percentage of negligence that the deceased contributed. For the example above, if it was determined that the deceased’s texting accounted for 20% of the car accident, then the deceased’s beneficiaries would only receive 80% of the total compensation.
Building a Case
A wrongful death, or personal injury attorney will help you build the best case for your lost loved one. A personal injury attorney will thoroughly investigate the case, while most insurance companies try to settle or deny a claim outright. They’ll often rule based on contributory negligence in an effort to just settle the case. An attorney will work to get justice served for your lost family member.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to negligence, you need the expert advice of wrongful death attorneys such as those at Personal Injury Attorneys PLLC.