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Are Settlements Higher In Fatal Car Accidents?



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Getting the news that a loved one has passed away because of a fatal car accident is devastating. As your family begins to cope with the grief, another stark reality sets in — you have various responsibilities and expenses to cover regarding the estate, funeral and burial.

Are you able to get a higher settlement to deal with the aftermath of a fatal car accident? Discover what goes into obtaining full compensation after any kind of car accident and what makes fatal accidents different.

The Reason Fatal Car Accidents May Result in Higher Settlements

Most car accident cases settle out of court. Such agreements are typically confidential to protect the privacy of all parties. For that reason, the exact details and metrics about figures for settlement amounts are hard to come by.

Each case is unique and the settlement will depend on who was in the accident and what happened. However, courts and insurance companies typically assign larger awards or settlements for cases involving greater economic damages and emotional distress. Since the consequences of a fatal accident are permanent and cause intense emotional pain for families, these settlements can often be higher than others.

Other elements that go into determining the compensation for a fatal car accident include the age of the victim, the person’s earning capacity, the types of medical treatment the individual received before dying and whether the at-fault party was particularly negligent or malicious.

Each case is different, which is why you should discuss your situation with a fatal car accident lawyer from Big Auto’s network of attorneys. We can help you understand how to pursue full compensation.

How a Survival Action Can Impact a Fatal Car Accident Settlement

The legal process after a fatal car accident may require recovering full compensation through two different claims, depending on your state. In all circumstances, your family will need to file a wrongful death claim. This legal action provides compensation for the losses that surviving family members suffer.

However, your deceased loved one may have also suffered distinct losses in the time between the accident and passing away. To recover these damages, you typically must file a survival action.

Some states let you include the survival action as part of the wrongful death suit. Others require the survival action to be a separate claim. For example, Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia, Connecticut and New Mexico separate the process for a survival suit as of 2024.

However, laws can change on how states handle these procedures, so you have to discuss the regulations in your locale with your lawyer. Fortunately, Big Auto has a nationwide network of lawyers that will help you file for all possible damages in your state.

The Parties That Can Request a Settlement After a Fatal Car Accident

Each state also has its own rules for who files the wrongful death suit. In general, the right to file a claim and recover damages goes to the immediate family members in order of closeness. That hierarchy often breaks down as follows:

Most states also have the rule that only one person can bring the case. Either the closest surviving family member or a chosen personal representative handles that legal process.

Rules regarding the distribution of the settlement also vary. Some states dictate that a specific amount goes to the spouse or children while others let the family decide. This highlights another benefit of collaborating with a capable law firm in your area from Big Auto instead of taking someone’s word for how things work.

The Damages You Can Recover After a Fatal Car Accident

Damages for any personal injury case fall into the following three categories.


The primary damages to recover after a car accident are the economic losses your deceased loved one and family suffered. In the wrongful death suit, you can request:

The survival action will cover whatever economic losses that the deceased person specifically incurred. This includes any medical treatments before they died and any property in the deceased’s name. Also, any wages the decedent lost between the wrongful act and death are recoverable.


Your family can also claim noneconomic damages for the mental, emotional and psychological impact of the death of your loved one. This compensation covers the protection, affection, moral support, guidance, training and companionship you lost.

Spouses are also able to include the loss of sexual relations with the partner. Likewise, a survival action will provide compensation for any pain, suffering and psychological harm your deceased loved one experienced before dying.

Reliving and explaining all of these details can be distressing. Your attorneys from the Big Auto network can support and guide you through this process to mitigate the pain and stress. We’ll take the burden of communicating with insurance firms or a defense team off of your shoulders. This assistance allows you to get as much compensation as possible and as quickly as possible.


Punitive damages are rare in personal injury cases. However, they are more likely in fatal car accidents because of the gravity of the situation. If the at-fault party’s actions were egregious or malicious, a court may be willing to award you additional damages to penalize the wrongdoer and provide a stern warning to others.

For example, if a trucking company was not following rest regulations and a drowsy trucker struck your loved one, that business might be liable for punitive damages. Arguing for these damages in court or negotiating them in a settlement requires an understanding of precedent and the sentiment of the judge or jury. A Big Auto lawyer is also ready to navigate you through that process.

How Different Types of Negligence Affect Settlements

Local standards of negligence also affect how much compensation you can receive. For example, pure contributory negligence mandates that a victim who contributed in any way to the accident cannot collect damages.

Other states have pure comparative negligence, which means an accident victim can recover damages no matter how much responsibility they bear for the accident. However, the court or insurer will subtract that individual’s percentage of responsibility from the award or settlement.

Other states follow the modified comparative negligence arrangement, but how they apply it varies. With this standard, plaintiffs can only recover corresponding damages when being either less than 50% or 51% percent at fault. (Furthermore, South Dakota has a unique hybrid of comparative and contributory that it calls slight/gross negligence comparative standard.)

As you can see, these rules vary considerably. This is why a Big Auto lawyer who understands the statutes in your area can help you fight for maximum compensation.

Big Auto Is Ready To Help You Fight for Justice After a Fatal Car Accident

Nothing can replace the loss of a dear loved one, but getting fair compensation can reduce your burdens and make it easier to move on from the tragedy. Our network of attorneys can help you with a wrongful death claim and survival action after a fatal car accident.

Contact us to get a free case evaluation and discover how we can fight for you, wherever you are.