When you lose a loved one in a car accident, you'll need a lawyer that will flesh out all possible claims.
When a car accident claims the life of a loved one, Texas law empowers you seek restitution from the person whose misconduct caused the fatality. Unfortunately, while most wrongful death claims are significant in value (due to a jury's desire to punish the defendant with a large verdict), most fatal car accidents are caused by people who have limited financial resources. In other words, most fatal car accident cases are million-dollar cases against a defendant who doesn't have a million dollars to pay you, even if you win.
But that may not be the end of the story. In many instances, lesser experienced attorneys will be hired by the family of a fatal accident victim and said attorneys will file a claim against the defendant's insurance, settle the case for a relatively insignificant amount of money, and take no further action. In some cases, that's all that can be done, but lawyers with significant experience in these matters know that there's often more than just an insurance claim to be made.
In this article, attorney Michael Grossman will discuss the other potential claims that exist and why it's so important to partner with an attorney that knows how to treat your fatal car accident case as more than just a minor insurance claim.
Questions answered in this section:
- Why should you look for other sources of compensation for your fatal car accident case?
- What happens if a driver's insurance doesn't cover all the damage they've caused in a car accident?
- If the driver who caused an accident doesn't have auto insurance, are there other ways I can be compensated?
Why does this matter?
Why is it important to investigate the possibility of other claims existing? Well, when someone is seriously hurt or killed in a car accident, the driver who caused the crash doesn't always have the insurance to cover it. And if a driver is driving without significant insurance coverage, there's a good chance they don't have much in the way of other assets that could be used to compensate the victims. This means that looking for other sources of compensation is necessary. Without it, victims will often be left with little or nothing.
However, the reasons behind looking for alternative sources of compensation go beyond the economic. Even if your family wasn't financially dependent on the victim of the accident, you still want to see justice served.
What other types of claims are there?
As we said before, whoever caused the accident may not have sufficient insurance to cover the damage he's caused. In some cases, this insurance will or won't be there, and that's the end of it. However, there are other things that your lawyer should look for.
- Other assets. Our firm once took on a case in which a man was killed in an accident. The defendant who caused the accident only had $100,000 in insurance. But as we investigated, we discovered that he was also a successful doctor who had millions of dollars in assets. We were able to go after those assets and get the defendant's family the compensation they deserved. This is an example of something we see quite often: An insurance policy exists, however, it doesn't cover all of the damage done in the accident.
- Products liability. Whenever an investigation discovers that a car accident occurred because some part of the vehicle was defective or malfunctioned, it's possible for the auto manufacturer to be held liable, in addition to the driver of the vehicle. Our firm has won several cases in which the vehicle itself was found to be the cause of the accident.
- Dram shop. The term "Dram Shop Law" refers to the laws that hold bars and other establishments that serve alcohol liable whenever they over-serve patrons who are obviously intoxicated, and then go out and get into accidents. If you suspect the driver that caused your accident was intoxicated, it's a good idea to see whether or not a bar was involved. If it turns out a bar did serve the drunk driver who killed your loved one, you may have a Dram Shop case.
- On-the-clock. It's possible that the driver who caused your loved one's accident was on-the-clock when it happened. If that turns out to be the case, then the driver's employer could potentially be held liable for the accident.
- Other types of insurance. The defendant may have umbrella insurance or general liability insurance, which can provide extra coverage in the case of a car accident.
- Other insurance policies. This scenario doesn't happen as often as some of the others we've outlined. But there are instances in which a husband and wife will each have their own, separate insurance possibilities. Again, this doesn't happen often, but it's something that should be looked at.
You'll need an experienced lawyer to investigate.
Car accidents happen every day. Because of that, people have the idea that they're pretty easy to handle. You call your insurance company, turn in a claim, and that's the end of it. But that's not always the case. Some car accident cases can be very complex, especially when the victim is killed and alternative sources of compensation have to be looked into. We at Grossman Law Offices have been handling car accident cases for over 25 years. We know what to look for, and we know how to get accident victims the compensation they deserve. If you've been involved in an auto accident, call us today at 1-855-326-0000.
Related Articles for Further Reading: