Fatal Accident Damages

I have a question from a close friend…

How much monetary damage can a person involved in a fatal automobile accident expect to be found liable for? Do the damages generally exceed the liability limit of the at-fault parties liability insurance?(100-300k) If so, which assets would generally be seized to pay the award? Is the at-fault person in danger of losing their home? Would the court garnish(ee?) wages to pay the award?

There was one fatality, at the scene. It was a middle aged retired man with grown children. I can supply more details if needed, the insurance company has said not to worry about it right now, but the driver is still concerned about the possibilities.

Thanks in advance.

MC$E

From the FAQ - guidelines for posting at the SDMB:

Your friend should consult a lawyer in the jurisdiction he/she lives in, pronto. He/she can contact the local bar association if he/she doesn’t know any lawyers; the local bar can give a referral to a lawyer who practices in this area of the law.

Well, honestly, my friend is trying to avoid the “You should retain me because all these bad things will happen to you if you don’t” message that she expects from a lawyer. She was told by the insurance company that a lawyer was not necessary at this time.

She’s not looking for legal advice on how to handle the situation, just some “This is what happened to me” type stories.

Thanks,

MC$E

I’ll also preface this by saying I’m not a lawyer, and have no special knowledge in this area.

My best advice to your friend is: don’t screw around worrying about nickels and dimes when someone is dead. Get a lawyer. Financial damages are only a some of the potential consequences she faces. Think about possible felony charges. Think about time in jail or state prison. The insurance company has no interest beyond minimizing its own payout.

That said, there are a few “promising” (for lack of a better term) facts. Damages are assesed by a number of factors, including an estimated “lost future earnings”, and a retired person is more likely to be rather lower on this chart than a young person in a new job. Generally, the older and poorer a person is, the less “valuable” they are in terms of damages in a court of law.

I’m afraid yojimboguy is right. The “future earning potential” is a critical element of determining damages. This will be a limiting factor, but juries can always be played. As a law student they teach us how to manipulate juries, so you never know what you might get.

I hope your close friend is keeping their responsibility to the survivors of the vicitim in mind, in addition to worrying about their liability. They probably are, but I felt the need to bring this perspective up.

So, she’s relying on the insurance company for legal advice.

Does she go to a lawyer for insurance advice? :wink:

And she never goes to doctors because she never wants to be told she’s sick, right?

Depending on the situation, jurisdiction, weather, etc., she may be able to protect herself with a bankruptcy after the lawsuits, but she will need a lawyer then so why not just cut to the chase and get one now. Of course, I’m no lawyer.

And she never goes to doctors because she never wants to be told she’s sick, right?

Depending on the situation, jurisdiction, weather, etc., she may be able to protect herself with a bankruptcy after the lawsuits, but she will need a lawyer then so why not just cut to the chase and get one now. Of course, I’m no lawyer.