Losing a loved one to an accident can be challenging for any family. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of Americans die every year from fatal accidents involving operating motor vehicles, working on the job, or just living one’s daily life. When a fatal accident causes the death of a loved one, surviving loved ones should understand their legal rights to address the fatal accident.
Fatal Accident Statistics
The number of individuals involved in fatal accidents in the State of Arkansas is staggering. Below is a sample of data collected from some of the most dangerous activities resulting in fatal accidents:
- Motor Vehicles: According to data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS-HLDI), a total of 683 fatalities occurred in Arkansas from 585 fatal car accidents. Based on this data, 21.1 people died per 100,000 in a state with a population of 3.1 million.
- Occupation: Based on data collected by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64 Arkansans were involved in a fatal accident at work in 2020.
- Accidents Generally: Accidents were the 4th leading cause of death in Arkansas in 2017, which resulted in 1,625 deaths, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.
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Who Is at Fault?
Understanding who is at fault is critical to addressing a loved one’s fatal accident. Without investigating the full circumstances of an accident and identifying the responsible party, loved ones are at risk of wasting valuable time and resources to ensure their legal rights are adequately exercised. Below are typical examples of fatal accidents.
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Motor Vehicle Drivers
Car accidents are one of the most common forms in the United States. Many car accidents result in one or more parties being at fault for the accident. This likely means that the drivers involved in the accident are responsible for the accident.
Common causes of motor vehicle accidents include:
- Distracted driving (when a driver uses their phone is distracted in some way taking their attention off the road).
- Road rage.
- Driving while intoxicated.
- Driving during inclement weather conditions.
- Reckless driving (disobeying traffic laws like speeding or running stop lights).
- Driving at night.
- Design defects.
When multiple drivers get into a car accident, the driver that caused the accident is deemed “at fault,” making that driver legally and financially liable for the accident. However, like many states, Arkansas adheres to the theory of “comparative negligence,” where multiple parties can be found at fault for an accident.
For example, two drivers get into an accident resulting in $100,000 in damages. Driver A is found to be 70% liable, and Driver B is only 30% liable for the accident. As a result, driver B can recover $70,000 in damages after their damage award was reduced based on negligent actions.
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Although less common than traffic fatalities, workplace fatalities occur all the time and for various reasons. The federal government and a slew of states have a variety of safety compliance laws designed to maintain safe working conditions for employees. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the federal government created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), designed to enforce existing safety laws and create new workplace regulations.
Although employers must comply with OSHA standards relating to an endless regime of safety regulations, accidents still happen. In addition, when a loved one dies on the job, multiple parties may be at fault for their death:
- Employers: Because employers typically own and control every aspect of their business, they assume a lot of liability for accidents. For example, an employer may be liable for not supplying their employee’s safety equipment or for not posting proper notices about unsafe working conditions.
- Co-Workers: Although employers take on the bulk of the responsibility, employees may be liable for their actions because they were grossly negligent, reckless, acted outside the scope of their employment, or committed a crime resulting from the accident. For example, an employee trained to operate a forklift may be liable if they show up for a shift intoxicated.
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In some instances, the owner or proprietor of property may cause a fatal accident because of the condition of their property. For example, when a property owner fails to warn certain persons of known defects on the property, the property owner may be liable for fatal injuries sustained by the person.
This can include defects like large holes throughout the landscape or deteriorating structures on the property. Another typical example can be attractants like jungle gyms or trampolines that prompt children to trespass on the property.
If a property owner fails to notify patrons and trespassers entering the property or neglects to address known defects, they can be liable for fatal injuries.
Addressing a Fatal Accident
When someone has been involved in a fatal accident, it is best for those around them to seek medical attention. If they have died because of their injuries, notifying law enforcement and emergency services establishes a paper record of the accident that can be used later for any legal proceedings.
After the accident, loved ones should reach out to a fatal accident attorney in Marion, AR to determine their next steps. By engaging an Arkansas fatal accident attorney, loved ones can ensure their legal needs are met. Attorneys will begin by asking for details of the accident and collecting any physical evidence, including paperwork, photographs, policies, legal documents, and contact information of the involved parties. Then, an attorney will commence their investigation and evaluate the evidence to determine if the accident was simply an accident or if another party was responsible.
If an attorney and the prospective client agree to move forward, a Marion, AR fatal accident attorney will provide a detailed plan of the next steps. For example, in many fatal accident cases, an attorney may send demand letters to involved parties, file a lawsuit, mediate outstanding issues and pursue settlement. In addition, because every fatal accident is different, an attorney may be required to contact law enforcement, report accidents to a governmental agency, or file a claim with an administrative agency tasked with overseeing specific injuries.
Contact a Marion, AR Fatal Accident Lawyer for Help Today
If a loved one has recently suffered a fatal accident, their surviving family members may be entitled to compensation. Please contact one of our fatal accident lawyers in Marion, AR at Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi, PLC for a free consultation today.
Call or text (901) 526-2126 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form