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Can I File a Wrongful Death Suit After a Fatal Motorcycle Crash?

December 27, 2023
Fatal Motorcycle Crash

For motorcycle lovers, few things are more satisfying than cruising down the open road and taking in some gorgeous views along the way. But that journey can come to an abrupt end when a negligent or careless driver causes a motorcycle accident.

If you’ve lost a family member in such an accident, you’re understandably angry at the driver who caused it. Nothing can bring your loved one back, but suing the negligent driver can make financial challenges, such as paying for funeral costs, medical expenses, and a lifetime of lost earnings a bit easier to bear. Learn how a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim for a Fatal Motorcycle Crash?

Whether you, personally, can file a wrongful death claim depends on your state’s laws. You may think that any surviving family member can sue the at-fault driver, but this often isn’t so.

In Texas, the only people who can make a wrongful death claim are:

  • The deceased’s spouse
  • Their children (including adopted children)
  • Their parents (including adoptive parents)

In New Mexico, the law allows for a personal representative of the wrongful death estate to be appointed in order to prosecute claims. That individual can be anyone; however, only the beneficiaries of the wrongful death estate (usually, spouses, children, and possibly parents) can recover money from the wrongful death estate.  

Damages Available to Survivors

Damages available for a wrongful death claim depend on your state and the specifics of your case. With the help of a motorcycle accident lawyer, you may be able to seek compensation for:

  • Hospital bills for treating the deceased’s injuries before their passing
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, and love
  • Lost care, maintenance, and support (this includes the deceased’s lost wages)
  • Lost inheritance (the assets the deceased would have accumulated and given to family members had they lived)

If the at-fault driver acted especially maliciously (for instance, by deliberately hitting a motorcycle rider, driving while drunk or distracted), the jury may also award punitive damages. This is fairly rare, however, but your motorcycle accident lawyer can help you determine if this type of damage applies in your case.

How to Sue for Wrongful Death 

If you wish to sue for wrongful death, you must first know your state’s statute of limitations. In Texas, you have two years to file a lawsuit, while New Mexico gives survivors three years. Passing the deadline means that the court may bar you from recovery.

Next, you’ll need to call an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. It is possible to file a lawsuit on your own, but you’ll have a better chance of a larger insurance settlement or award with an attorney at your side.

To win your case, your attorney must prove that the at-fault driver acted negligently and thus, has liability for the accident. They will need to prove that:

  1. The driver had a duty of care to your family member (on the road, this means they should have driven safely and followed traffic laws).
  2. The driver breached their duty, for instance, by driving while drunk or running a red light.
  3. The breach of duty caused your loved one’s accident.
  4. The accident led to losses that the at-fault party can compensate you for via damages.

Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. Will Help You Seek Justice

If your loved one perished in a motorcycle accident, let our attorneys at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. help you determine your options to see if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit to pursue compensation.

For a consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer, call us at (800) 433-2408.