When a family member has been fatally injured, the legal system offers options and resources to families coping with the loss.

A teenaged driver in a nearby Massachusetts community recently hit and killed a man and his dog. The car-pedestrian accident has resulted in charges against the 17-year-old driver. He now faces charges of negligently speeding resulting in death, speeding and failure to stay in marked lanes, following the fatal car crash. The teenaged driver is on the high school football team and was apparently returning from practice when the accident took place. The vehicle he was driving came to rest on a tree after striking the man and his dog.

The wrongful death of a loved one can be one of the worst experiences a surviving family member may have to face. Because the legal system recognizes that possibility, options exist for surviving family members to recover damages for and associated with the loss. To recover damages, family members may bring a wrongful death cause of action against the negligent party for compensation. Damages can include pain and suffering damages, as well as loss of companionship damages and medical and funeral expenses. Exact damages depend on factors including characteristics of the surviving family members, the lost loved one and the relationship between the parties.

To recover damages, the surviving family members bringing the claim must demonstrate negligence on behalf of the party against whom the claim is brought. Negligence simply means that a party was required to demonstrate care for the safety of others and, in failing to do so, injured or killed another party. Criminal charges or citations related to the accident are typically considered evidence of negligence.

A fatal accident can permanently alter the lives of family members. Because of this, a personal injury legal professional can help families of victims evaluate damages and guide families through the process of making a claim.

Source: Easton Patch, “Teen Driver Charged in Fatal Easton Accident,” Jeffrey Fish, Sept. 3, 2013