In 2019, Nebraska recorded its highest number of traffic accident deaths in the last 5 years. According to a year-end report by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, 248 people were killed last year in vehicle crashes – an 8 percent increase in the number of deaths from the previous year.
The report revealed that fatal accidents on rural roads significantly outnumbered deadly collisions on urban streets, with highways in rural areas the most likely location in the state for an accident involving a fatality.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, the lawyers at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop can help you pursue compensation for your loss. Please call (402) 241-5020 today for a free consultation. We serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, and nearby areas of Nebraska and Iowa.
Common Causes of Fatal Car Accidents
Driver error continues to be a major factor in car accidents. Some of the most common examples of reckless behavior that result in accident fatalities include:
- Aggressive driving
- Drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
Other issues that may lead to fatal car accidents include defective vehicle components and defective or dangerous roadways.
Why Are Rural Highways in Nebraska So Dangerous?
According to the Nebraska Transportation Center, “rural highways support a high percentage of heavy commercial vehicles; in some rural areas, over 60% of highway traffic consists of heavy commercial vehicles.”
Semi trucks, farming equipment, and other heavy commercial vehicles significantly outweigh cars and other passenger vehicles. As a result, fatalities are not uncommon in a semi truck accident or a collision with another commercial vehicle.
Another factor is speed. Accidents occurring at highway speeds are generally more dangerous than crashes at slower speeds. Furthermore, heavy commercial vehicles require a greater distance to come to a stop, which makes it more difficult to avoid an accident.
Compensation in a Fatal Car Accident
If your loved one was killed in a traffic accident, our lawyers can pursue a wrongful death claim on behalf of your family. Depending on the losses you and your family have suffered, you may be eligible for compensation of damages such as:
- Lost wages and other financial hardships
- Expenses for funeral services and burial or cremation
- Medical expenses for care provided prior to death
- Loss of household services
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance
- Pain and suffering of the deceased
Punitive damages may also be available in your case. Though not tied directly to your losses, punitive damages are an additional form of compensation that is sometimes (but not frequently) awarded if the defendant’s conduct is found to be severely reckless or malicious.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Car Accident?
The statute of limitations in Nebraska for car accident cases is different than the statute governing wrongful death claims. Injury victims in auto accident cases have 4 years to bring a claim. However, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is only 2 years.
So, if your loved one is killed in a vehicle accident, you have just 2 years to file suit. With this in mind, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to start building your claim.
Damages in wrongful death claims are often significant, and the other driver’s insurance company will try to pay you as little as possible. Starting on your claim early gives your lawyer time to prepare an effective case on your behalf, and it gives you and your loved ones the best chance of recovering fair compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim After a Fatal Car Accident?
According to Nebraska law, “Action for wrongful death requires that it be brought by the personal representative of the deceased.” The personal representative is generally named in the decedent’s will. The personal representative may be a family member, or it could be someone unrelated to the deceased.
Although the personal representative files the wrongful death claim, the action is brought “for the exclusive benefit of the widow or widower and next of kin.” Family members who may be awarded damages in a wrongful death claim include:
Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death nationwide. If your loved one is killed in a traffic collision, an experienced lawyer can review your legal options for filing suit against the at-fault driver.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
The increase in fatal traffic accidents is a sobering statistic for drivers throughout Nebraska. It also illustrates the importance of knowing your rights if a loved one is killed in a crash.
Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop has been serving communities of Nebraska and Iowa for 30 years. Collectively, our attorneys have more than 230 years of experience serving clients in auto injury and wrongful death cases. We have earned millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements on behalf of clients and their families.
For a free case review, please call Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop at (402) 241-5020 today. Our lawyers have offices in Omaha and Sarpy County.