According to Northwestern University, riding a motorcycle is the deadliest form of transportation. Data from the Federal Highway Administration agrees. Though deaths from passenger cars and light trucks have dropped 27 percent, motorcycle deaths have doubled since 1997. This means motorcycle deaths are much higher than all other types of traffic fatalities.
If your loved one has died in a motorcycle accident, you might have more questions than answers. One of those questions might be whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against a negligent party. If that is the case, call Kiley Law Group today. We have helped clients with all their legal needs for over 40 years. In that time, our clients have won over $500 million in personal injury case settlements.
Call Kiley Law Group today at (888) 435-1321 for a free case evaluation. There is no fee unless you win.
Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous?
“Look twice – save a life” is a popular campaign within the biker community. Maybe you have seen it on bumper stickers or signs. It is a good reminder for other motorists that they must be extra careful around riders. Motorcycles are smaller and slimmer, making them difficult to see. A bike can disappear in a vehicle’s blind spot and not be seen at all.
The size of a motorcycle is not the only reason why they are more dangerous. The bike itself does not protect the rider. There is no airbag, seatbelt, or metal frame around him to absorb an impact. In the event of a collision, the rider could be ejected off the bike at a high rate of speed. This is why motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to die in an accident than someone in a passenger vehicle.
What is Wrongful Death?
Bikers are often stereotyped as risky drivers. The problem is that many motorcycle accidents are caused by pedestrian vehicles. The “look twice – save a life” campaign exists for that reason. It was designed to help reinforce the idea that motorists should take a second look before changing lanes or making a turn.
The reality is that many motorcycle accidents can be prevented. Too many bikers are tragically killed each year by another person’s negligence. When this happens, the family of the deceased may be entitled to seek compensation for their loss in a wrongful death lawsuit. It is recommended that a family that decides to go this route hire a personal injury attorney to help them with the process.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil suit filed on behalf of the family. Wrongful death is considered accidental. There is no claim that the defendant intentionally caused anyone’s death, which is considered manslaughter. To win a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the rider’s death was directly caused by the defendant’s negligent behavior. Without that proof, there is no case that can be brought forward.
How to Prove Wrongful Death?
To sue someone for wrongful death, it is essential to provide evidence that the negligent party caused your loved one’s death. There are three elements essential to proving wrongful death.
Duty of care
Everyone on the roadway, regardless of what you drive, owes a duty of care to those around them. The duty of care we owe to each other means we are going to drive reasonably and safely. Are you following traffic laws and not driving recklessly? By failing to act in a reasonably safe manner, you are threatening the lives of other drivers and pedestrians.
Breach of duty of care
The second element involves asking whether the defendant breached his duty of care. Was he driving recklessly, breaking laws, or distracted? For example, someone who was texting while driving certainly breached the duty of care.
The final element asks whether the defendant’s breach of care directly resulted in someone’s death.
A plaintiff must prove that there was a duty of care, the defendant breached that duty, and this resulted in someone’s death. Call Kiley Law Group today to help you and your family get the justice you deserve.
Negligent Behaviors That Can Lead to a Fatal Motorcycle Accident
It has been established that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a passenger vehicle. There are virtually no safety standards on a motorcycle that keeps riders safe. Some states do not even require a helmet to be worn. Other motorists must do what they can to keep bikers safe on the road by driving safely.
Negligent behaviors that can severely injure or kill a motorcyclist may include:
- Failing to check blind spots
- Aggressive driving
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to give bikers extra space
- Driving a faulty vehicle
- Distracted driving
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in Massachusetts?
After losing a loved one in a motorcycle accident, your life has been turned upside down. You may have plenty of questions about filing a wrongful death suit, including who can legally file one. Each state differs in this respect. In Massachusetts, only the executor or personal representative of the decedent’s estate is allowed to file.
The executor was chosen by the deceased to handle his or her affairs. That includes handling any insurance money, paying final debts, and taking care of final wishes. The executor would also be the one who handled the process of filing a wrongful death claim.
Parents and siblings can file only if the deceased has no spouse or children, as they would be considered next of kin. Where the law gets tricky is if a domestic partner, an unmarried partner, or stepchildren become involved. These family members would have to make a special request to the court for permission to file a wrongful death suit. It is more likely the other party will challenge the right of the unmarried spouse or stepchildren to file. If you are in this position, hire a personal injury attorney right away.
Compensation Available in a Wrongful Death Suit
Another question dependents might have about a wrongful death suit is the available types of compensation. Like most personal injury cases, economic and non-economic damages can be claimed.
Economic damages are easier to quantify, making up the monetary value of the losses resulting from the fatal accident. Economic damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of inheritance
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate. These are more intangible and can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Future lost wages
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
Punitive damages are also on the table in a wrongful death suit. Punitive damages are paid by the defendant as a punishment for exceptionally negligent behavior. Punitive damages will not be awarded in most personal injury cases in Massachusetts. An exception might be made for wrongful death. The jury would have to decide whether the defendant’s behavior was extreme in its recklessness.
How to Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim?
The process of pursuing a wrongful death claim begins simply as it sounds. There was a motorcycle accident that resulted in death. As the loved one of the deceased, you are claiming that the other party acted negligently. In Massachusetts, you have a statute of limitations to file that claim within 3 years of the accident.
The goal is to approach the other party’s insurance company for a wrongful death settlement. The insurance company is not your friend, nor do they have the best interests of your family in mind. They will likely make lowball offers, hoping you will be desperate enough to accept. This is not something you should try to do on your own.
Instead, you should hire a lawyer to take on your wrongful death motorcycle accident claim. Attorneys have experience handling these types of cases. Your attorney will be able to:
- Investigate the details of the accident
- Gather all the evidence needed to prove the other party’s negligence
- Calculate how much compensation you deserve
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company
- Advise you on the right steps to take
- Represent your interests in court
Your attorney will fight for justice on your behalf. If a fair settlement cannot be reached between the two parties, the case will go to trial. Then it will be up to a judge or a jury to determine the wrongful death suit.
Call Kiley Law Group Today
Winning a wrongful death suit in Massachusetts is not easy. Kiley Law Group has over 40 years of experience in helping clients get the compensation they deserve. So far, our clients have won over $500 million in damages. That is why we say one call can make a difference.
Call Kiley Law Group today at (888) 435-1321. Our team is available 24/7 to hear your story and evaluate your case. There is no fee unless you win.