Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of death in the United States. Montana is no exception. Despite there being fewer people per square mile in Montana than most other states, there is still a risk any time you get on the road.
People die on the roads every day, and many times it is a tragedy but no one was consciously negligent. People in both vehicles can make mistakes that contribute to the accident.
Sometimes, however, it is very obvious that one party is fully responsible for the crash. This could include a situation such as impaired driving or distracted driving. If you lost a loved one in a crash caused by someone else, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim holds the other party responsible
Sometimes, even in cases of neglect or wrongful acts, there simply isn't enough evidence for law enforcement to seek a criminal conviction. Other times, the defendant has a skilled attorney or a personal story that invokes the pity of the jury. Whatever the situation, you should know that you have the right to pursue wrongful death charges even if there was not a criminal conviction.
The standard for proof in a civil case is lower than that for a criminal conviction. You have a better shot of successfully demonstrating responsibility for the collision in civil court.
The courts allow you to seek financial compensation for your loss
You may seek both compensatory damages for actual losses and punitive damages, intended to penalize the person responsible. Actual losses may include things such as lost wages, medical costs, property damage, funeral costs, loss of support and similar financial expenditures or losses.
Punitive damages are harder to quantify, but they are essentially financial penalties for wrongdoing or negligence. If the other driver was drunk or texting at the wheel, that could be grounds for seeking punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death damages can help your family get by after a loss
Every state has its own approach to wrongful death suits. Many times, family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In Montana, the rule is that the plaintiff must be a personal representative of the deceased's estate: A spouse, parent, sibling, child or executor named in a will can bring a lawsuit. The claim must be filed within three years from the date of death.
Winning a wrongful death lawsuit caused by a negligent reckless driver can help your family overcome financial hardships. If you recently lost a loved one in a crash caused by another driver, it may be time to consider such a route to seek some form of justice.