If an auto accident results in a fatality, the surviving dependents, of the deceased, can pursue compensation (a.k.a. death benefits or survivors benefits) for wrongful death in one of three ways; filing a claim with the insurance of the deceased; filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance; or they may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Those seeking survivor’s benefits must prove that they had a legal dependency on the decedent (the deceased). Individuals whom the government recognizes as dependents include: the spouse of the deceased, cohabitants, and minor children (however, the children must be legitimate children of the deceased, or legally adopted).
In cases of wrongful death, the surviving relatives may pursue compensation for:
- Medical Bills
- Funeral Expenses
- Pain and Suffering of the Deceased Before Death
- Loss of Future Income
- Spousal Loss of Consortium
- Loss of Companionship
- Loss of Guidance/ Mentorship
In no-fault states, like Utah, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance may cover certain death benefits. These benefits may include funeral expenses and/or burial expenses. Other insurance policies may offer survivors benefits such as:
Accidental Death Benefits
The term ‘accidental’ means an event that is both unusual and unexpected by the decedent. If intentional, a fatality will not cause the surviving dependents to qualify for death or survivor’s benefits.
Continuation of Lost Earnings
This benefit may be distributed in one of two ways; the survivors may continue to receive lost income benefits that would have been paid to the decedent if they had not died, including future wages; Or, the surviving family members may only receive compensation for the wages that the decedent would have made during his lifetime (typically defined as the time between the injury and death of the decedent), without regard to future income. However, this benefit will not apply if the decedent was unemployed at the time of death.
This benefit replaces real material goods the insured person would have provided had they not sustained injury. This benefit applies to cases where a fatality did not occur. Furthermore, in some states, this coverage may apply if the fatality resulted from injuries sustained in an auto accident. Additionally, unlike the continuation of lost earnings benefit, the employment status of the decedent prior to death doesn’t affect this benefit.
Replacement Services Payments
When a death occurs, a household may suffer from a loss of services that the decedent might have provided prior to their death, like home maintenance, cooking, lawn care, etc. These services may need to be replaced with hired help. The purpose of this benefit is to cover the cost of such hired help.
How To Qualify for These Benefits
In order to recover these benefits, one must be able to prove that the decedent’s death was directly caused, or clearly connected to the operation of a motor vehicle. Each no-fault state has its own policy on the application of these benefits, and when these benefits will no longer apply. Furthermore, most no-fault states protect death benefits; meaning surviving dependents may collect this benefit even if PIP policy limits were exceeded by the decedent’s medical bills.
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!