Wrongful death lawsuits after reckless driving car crashes
On January 15, 2023, Jalen Carter, a former football star at the University of Georgia, who was on track to join the NFL, was involved in a fatal car crash that claimed the lives of two people. The 21-year-old Carter is now facing reckless driving charges in the crash.
Carter and Chandler LeCroy, a 24-year-old recruiting analyst for the University of Georgia football team, were drag-racing each other when LeCroy lost control and crashed around 2:45 a.m. that morning. Devin Willock, Carter’s 20-year-old teammate, was in LeCroy’s car and also died at the scene.
Carter now faces criminal misdemeanor charges for the accident that claimed both victims. The police investigation determined that reckless driving and alcohol impairment contributed to the crash.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is a type of aggressive driving that puts everyone on or near the road in danger. It can involve any of the following:
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Disregarding traffic laws, signs and signals
- Texting and other forms of distracted driving
Speeding is one of the leading forms of reckless driving. In fact, in 2020, it accounted for 29% of all road deaths.
Reckless driving involving excessive speeds makes it much harder to control a vehicle. The driver can lose control of their steering and have difficulty slowing down or stopping when danger becomes apparent. Weather conditions like rain and snow can make for an even deadlier combination.
Attorney Bernard Nomberg offers his top tips for what to do immediately after a car accident.
Statistics on car crashes and fatalities in Alabama
In 2020, statistics show that Alabama saw 1 car crash about every 4 minutes. During that same year, more than 930 people were killed in over 850 car accidents.
While the majority of car crashes in Alabama (75%) occur in urban areas, 62% of fatal accidents occur in rural areas. Additionally, 58% of all fatal crashes in the state involve people who were not wearing their seatbelts.
What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness or intentional actions, such as through violence. If the victim would’ve had cause to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party if they had lived, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.
Wrongful death actions are civil, not criminal. The purpose of these lawsuits is to compensate the victim’s surviving family members for the losses they suffer as a result of the person’s death. They can also recover compensation for the damages suffered by the victim while they were still alive.
Who can sue in a wrongful death claim?
In Alabama, the victim’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s surviving family members. The personal representative is also known as the executor of the decedent’s estate.
What damages are available in wrongful death lawsuits?
If a wrongful death lawsuit is successful, the victim’s family can recover economic, non-economic and sometimes even punitive damages.
- Economic damages are those that carry a specific monetary value, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost future earning capacity
- Lost benefits
- Loss of inheritance
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Non-economic damages are losses that don’t have a monetary value that can be easily calculated. These may include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- Punitive damages are only awarded in cases involving extreme disregard or intentional acts as a way to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior.
How to prove negligence in a wrongful death car crash
In order to prove negligence in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof and must show the following 4 elements were present during the accident:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty of care by failing to act responsibly
- The breach of duty caused the accident that led to the victim’s death
- The victim’s death caused their family to suffer damages
How long do you have to file a wrongful death claim in Alabama?
In Alabama, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is 2 years from the date of the victim’s death.
In most cases, failure to file a claim within this timeframe will prevent the victim’s family from recovering any compensation.
Contact an Alabama workers’ compensation attorney
At Nomberg Law Firm, we understand that losing a family member is absolutely devastating—especially if that death was unexpected. While a lawsuit can’t bring back your loved one, it can help you get justice and financial compensation for your loss.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact our Birmingham wrongful death attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have been helping families recover compensation after the death of a loved one for more than 50 years.