Overview and Statistics
In many instances, people do not make it past a car accident. Sometimes they die. In that case, many people close to the deceased will look to the justice system to compensate them for this tragic loss in some of the following ways (but there are many more!):
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of support.
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of services.
- Loss of advice.
Therefore, we wanted to give you a glimpse of what recovery is possible following a wrongful death in a car accident. We have assembled some information and stories for your review but feel free to call us if you have any questions or want more information. We have represented plaintiffs in wrongful death actions from car accidents and can help you get through these terrible times!
Plaintiffs' Recovery in Car Accidents Involving Wrongful Deaths Nationally (1994-2014)
State Frequency of Car Accidents cases Involving Wrongful Deaths as Percentage of the National Total (1994-2014) (Rounded to hundredths)
Here are some major takeaways from these national wrongful death cases:
- Wrongful deaths were one of the least recurrent categories of injury in car accident cases.
- Maybe more than was to be expected, many of these cases went to trial to contest the issue of liability and thereby precluded settlement.
- As the figures demonstrate, the most frequent forums for car accident litigation involving wrongful deaths were California, Florida, Missouri, New York, and Texas.
- For those obtaining awards or settlements, the median range of recovery was $40,000 -$50,000 and the average recovery was easily more than $1,000,000.
Case Summaries and Highlights
Below we have listed some case summaries to give you an indication of why some plaintiffs were more successful than others in obtaining recovery:
CASE NAME: WAHLBERG v. MARTIN
RECOVERY: $2,500,000 JURY AWARD
In this case, a couple-Robert and Virginia Nipp- was driving along a Minnesota highway with their grandchildren in the backseat. The two also had six children who were not in the car at the time. The defendant, Marjorie Martin, had earlier that day leased a car from Alamo Rent-A-Car. For some undetermined reason, as their two cars passed each other on that two-lane road, Martin’s car went over the median and ran straight into the Nipp’s vehicle. The crash killed both Robert and Virginia and left the grandchildren seriously injured. Pursuant to an agreement, however, the injuries to the grandkids were settled out of court. Yet, the children of Robert and Virginia brought a wrongful death action against Martin and Alamo, in accordance with a Minnesota statute that allowed them to hold the company vicariously liable when people it leased cars to harmed others. Also, no one denied that Martin herself was negligent in failing to keep on her side of the road and avoid running into the Nipps. The only issue at trial then was the question of damages. The defendants claimed that the plaintiffs should be limited to the monetary value that Robert and Virginia would have contributed to them had they lived. The plaintiffs countered that the deceased could have given them numerous intangible benefits and their deaths “Left their family and the community with a hole that cannot be filled. The counsel, guidance, aid, advice, comfort, assistance, protection and companionship which they have provided to their family is invaluable.” They continued that money should substitute for this and generally claimed a loss of care, advice, society, assistance, companionship, protection, and services. The jury accepted the broad view of damages offered by the plaintiffs and awarded them $2,500,00 for their claims.
CASE NAME: ESTRADA v. SERVICE TIRE TRUCK CENTER, INC.
RECOVERY: $3,000,000 JURY AWARD
In this case, a car and a truck ran into each other in the middle of a busy Virginia intersection. All three people inside the car died. Next of kin to the deceased brought wrongful death actions on their behalf. They all maintained that the driver was negligent in failing to yield to the car, failing to keep a safe distance between the two vehicles, and failing to avoid a traffic incident. Also, because the driver was working at the time, they sued his employer for negligence on a theory of vicarious liability. These actions claimed that the company was negligent in hiring, training, and supervising the driver. Neither defendant denied liability or claimed that the plaintiffs were at all responsible so the jury had no difficulty in returning a verdict for the plaintiffs in the amount of $3,000,000.
CASE NAME: MARCINOV v. O'DONNELL AND PIELA
RECOVERY: $850,000 SETTLEMENT
The plaintiff in this case was a 45-year-old woman. She was divorced and did not have any kids. One day while driving down a two-lane Connecticut road she was hit head-on by the defendant’s car. The trauma and force of the crash injured her greatly, and, despite emergency care, she died very soon after the incident. Although her medical bills were only a few thousand dollars, her next of kin brought a wrongful death action for the non-economic losses that her death brought to those around her: loss of companionship, loss of advice, loss of services, etc. The complete negligence of the defendant was never in doubt and both parties settled before trial for $850,000.
CASE NAME: PONZI v. CITY OF YOUNGSTOWN
In this unfortunate incident, a good Samaritan was actually rewarded with the worst injury imaginable, death, after trying to do the right thing. After watching a car accident take place right in front of him, he started to run across the highway to give assistance to those involved in the incident. An off-duty officer also saw this situation unfold and began to drive over to help as well. However, neither the cop nor the plaintiff saw one another before the cop ran him over with his police cruiser. The crash killed the 75-year-old man. After a short trial, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the amount of $1,600,000.