The medical costs associated with the treatment of serious injuries suffered by accident victims can be substantial. If victims die as a result of their injuries, those costs may be increased and may also be the responsibility of the victims' family members. In order to prevent unnecessarily adding to these costs, family members of victims of fatal accidents should consider filing a wrongful death action to provide compensation for the financial damages incurred.
An accident in New Jersey led to the death of a 70-year-old woman earlier this week. The woman was a pedestrian and was hit by an SUV. The driver of the SUV stayed at the scene after the collision, and the woman was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of her injuries. She later died at the hospital as a result of the injuries she sustained in the crash. The driver was arrested for having a suspended license while being involved in a fatal crash and may face additional charges as officials continue their investigation.
A wrongful death exists when someone is killed due to the negligence or improper conduct of another person or entity. An action for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the victim's estate and the action belongs to the victim's immediate family members. In such an action, the plaintiff's must prove the death of a person due to the negligence or harmful intent of another. They must also prove the surviving family members have incurred financial damages as a result and that a personal representative has been appointed to the victim's estate.
If the required elements for a successful wrongful death action exist, the amount of damages to be awarded must be determined. Although there are many factors involved, the death of an elderly person will likely have limited damages. This is due to the assumptions that elderly people have limited earning potential and their children are likely adults who no longer require guidance or support from their parents.
To curb the financial liability for costs associated with the wrongful death of a loved one, the surviving family members may be able to bring an action to receive compensation. However, in cases involving elderly victims, such damages may be limited.