Each year in the United States, approximately 1.25 million people die in vehicle accidents, leaving countless loved ones behind who must then struggle to cope in the aftermath. This is something no one is prepared for, so it can be difficult to know what you’re supposed to do next. Understanding what might happen can make this time easier to bear.
What Happens at the Scene
Not all accident fatalities happen at the scene of the crash. Some victims survive the initial accident only to succumb to their injuries later in the hospital. When a fatality does happen at the scene, in most cases the victim will still be transported to the hospital by ambulance. Sometimes the coroner will also be called to transport the deceased.
Once any victims have been transported for emergency treatment, the accident scene will be taped-off similarly to a homicide scene. This is done to preserve the evidence the investigators will use to determine fault. All evidence will be collected, and the scene will be extensively photographed and documented.
Emotions You Can Expect
When someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly, your grief may be overwhelming because you didn’t have any time to adjust to the idea that your loved one would pass away. Dealing with how your friend or family member died is a part of the grieving process.
It can be extremely difficult to deal with the knowledge that your loved one died in a violent accident. This grief can be compounded if the accident didn’t have to happen because it was the result of negligence. Some of the symptoms of grief you can expect to experience are:
All of these are normal, and you may experience any combination of these feelings after a sudden, tragic death. If weeks have passed and these emotions are still overwhelming to the point where you can’t function normally, you may want to see a grief therapist.
Legal Issues That May Arise
If another party caused your loved one’s death through an act of negligence like texting while driving or driving while under the influence, certain family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party or their estate. Depending on your state’s laws, the following parties may be able to collect damages in this order:
- The surviving spouse and children
- If the spouse also didn’t survive or there is no spouse, the children
- If the spouses and children didn’t survive or there are no spouse or children, the parents
- If there are no survivors, the deceased’s estate
Some of the damages you may be able to claim include funeral and burial expenses, medical bills, emergency transportation, and pain and suffering. If you have questions about a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, please click the link for answers from a law firm that has experience with these cases. In some cases, the at-fault driver may also face criminal charges.
Many families find that filing a lawsuit is worth the effort, even though it’s the last thing they feel like dealing with. This is because the compensation from the lawsuit allows them to focus on their grief and healing rather than being in survival mode while they scramble to cope with the bills. This is especially true if the deceased was bringing in income the family depended on.
There is no single “correct” way to handle grief after a car accident, and finding your new normal will take some time. You can help yourself and your family members cope by sticking to a routine, taking care of yourself, and not being too embarrassed to seek help if you need it.