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No one wants to think about the possibility of having a family member die in a car accident. However, more than 1,000 fatal accidents occur on Arizona roads in an average year. Knowing what to do if someone you love is involved in a fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, can make dealing with the aftermath less traumatic.

Steps To Take After a Fatal Car Accident in Mesa

Dealing with insurance companies and lawyers while you are grieving the loss of a member of your family can be challenging. However, breaking the process into a series of manageable steps can help.

Contact an Attorney

If the other driver’s negligence caused the accident that resulted in your relative’s death, you might want to file a wrongful death suit against the at-fault party. If you win your case, you may receive compensation for the medical bills and final expenses of the deceased person. Additionally, you may be compensated for pain and suffering, lost wages and other damages. 

It is a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney in Phoenix, AZ early in the process because if the other party has insurance or an attorney, claims adjusters or lawyers will probably be contacting you, and it is important to consult with an experienced attorney before you deal with the other party’s representatives.

Gather Evidence

Gather as much evidence about the accident as you can. Request a copy of the police report. For a fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, you can request a copy of the police report online. Take photographs of the accident scene and the vehicles involved. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. The accident report should have the contact and insurance information for the driver of the other vehicle, but if you can get this information yourself, do so. 

If you were involved in the accident, write down everything you remember about it, including the actions you or the person driving took to attempt to avoid the accident. Other important factors to note include the speed the vehicles were traveling, if and when the drivers attempted to brake, the weather conditions, any distractions, such as talking on a cell phone, and any traffic violations committed, such as running a red light or failing to stop at a stop sign. 

Request an Autopsy

In case there is a dispute over whether injuries sustained in the fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, caused the death of your family member, it may be helpful to have an autopsy done. You can contact the Office of the Medical Examiner in Maricopa County to request the autopsy and a copy of the autopsy report. 

Make Funeral or Cremation Arrangements

Once the medical examination has been completed and the cause of death documented, you can make arrangements to have your relative buried or cremated. You will also need to complete a death registration and request a death certificate.

Manage the Estate of the Deceased Person

If the deceased person had a will, that document contains instructions for how to handle the deceased person’s estate, including which person is the executor of the estate. The executor is responsible for handling the estate and managing the deceased person’s legal and financial affairs. 

Contact the Insurance Company

If you are a named insured on the policy for the vehicle that your family member was driving or riding in when the fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, occurred, contact your insurance company to report the accident. Even if you do not have collision coverage or do not intend to use it, there may be other applicable coverages you can take advantage of, such as medical payments coverage. If you have medical payments coverage, it may pay for medical and funeral expenses related to the accident, regardless of who is at fault.

Additionally, if you were driving the vehicle and you are found to be at fault in the accident, your liability coverage may apply to a passenger in your vehicle who died because of the accident. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney before you talk to your insurance company.

There may also be steps you need to take to deal with the vehicle. If the vehicle was towed to an impound lot or repair shop, your insurance company may need your authorization to move the vehicle or initiate repairs to avoid storage charges. 

Forward Medical Bills To Your Attorney

If you decide to work with an attorney, you may want to forward any medical bills related to the medical treatment your relative received. These bills are usually paid by insurance or out of the estate of the deceased person; however, it may take some time. Your attorney can help you keep track of bills and avoid having unpaid bills go to collections.

File an Accidental Death or Life Insurance Claim

If the person who died in the fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, had accidental death or life insurance, you need to file a claim. Your attorney may be able to assist you with this step.

Pursue a Wrongful Death Claim

Once your attorney has finished investigating the claim and determined that the other driver is at fault, you can choose to proceed with a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death suit can be filed by the deceased person’s surviving spouse, parent, children, guardian or a representative acting on behalf of one or more of those people. Additionally, if the deceased person has a will, the personal representative named in the will can file suit. 

In some cases, more than one party may be liable for the death of your family member For example, if the accident was caused by the driver of a commercial vehicle, that driver’s employer might have some liability for the accident. Working with a skilled Phoenix wrongful death attorney determine whether any other factors, such as a defective airbag or faulty brakes, could have contributed to the accident occurring or resulting in death.

Sargon Law Group Can Help With Your Fatal Car Accident in Mesa, AZ

Dealing with insurance companies, bill collectors and attorneys in the aftermath of a fatal car accident in Mesa, AZ, can be overwhelming for a grieving family. The experienced Phoenix car accident attorneys at Sargon Law Group can handle all the details, including pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit if a third party caused your family member’s death. Contact us for a free consultation.