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Fatal Crashes: What Happened?

Posted April 27, 2024 in Uncategorized
Fatal Crashes: What Happened?

During a Monday morning commute this March in Iowa County, a tragic accident occurred. A semi-truck was traveling eastbound along a local highway. A 2009 Ford Fusion then pulled out onto the highway from a side road. The massive commercial truck then struck the driver’s side of the passenger vehicle. As a result of this collision, two individuals were injured and one lost their life

This description of a fatal crash is not an uncommon kind of accounting provided by local news sources when collisions occur. The date and time of the crash, the outcome, and a “bare bones” analysis of the events that unfolded tend to be what is reported. Why is this kind of reporting so minimalist? There are often concerns about privacy, to be sure. However, as any experienced Des Moines IA wrongful death lawyer can attest, there is also a concern that making any kind of assumptions about causation or liability before an investigation has unfolded in detail could lead to inaccurate representations of what truly happened. 

When an individual’s life has been lost as a result of a collision, there is perhaps no more pressing question than “What happened?” By thoroughly investigating the details of a fatal crash, surviving loved ones can better understand why they have been forced to endure such loss and whether anyone can be held accountable for it. 

When Are Fatal Crashes Legally Actionable?

In order for surviving loved ones to recover wrongful death damages as a result of a fatal collision, three things must generally be true:

  • First: The at-fault party/parties owed the deceased a legal duty of care
  • Second: The at-fault party/parties breached their duty of care by behaving negligently, recklessly, or in an intentionally harmful way
  • Third: The deceased lost their life as a direct result of that breach of duty

This is not to say that surviving loved ones are not entitled to any damages in the event that the deceased somehow contributed to the cause of their own harm. Oftentimes, there is more than one party to blame for the harm resulting from a collision. In Iowa, the law recognizes that surviving loved ones have a right to seek damages as a result of their loss from at-fault parties, provided that the deceased was no more than 50% to blame for the circumstances that led to their death. The amount of damages awarded is simply reduced in proportion to the blame assigned to the deceased. 

Investigating A Loss

At Des Moines Injury Law, we have extensive experience assisting surviving loved ones with the complex process of investigating “What happened?” in the wake of fatal crashes. Once we have determined the causation of such cases, we can advise those left behind of their rights and options for pursuing compensation from at-fault parties. Some crashes are not legally actionable, but the vast majority of fatal collisions do result in grounds for damages. As each case is unique, however, it is generally wise to seek legal guidance before making any assumptions about a particular set of circumstances. 

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