Alaska Wrongful Death Claims: Fatalities Long After the Accident

Like every other US state, Alaska has enacted a law that provides surviving family members with legal options after their loved one died in an accident. The wrongful death statute states that the personal representative may take legal action against the party whose misconduct caused the fatality. The personal representative is someone who was named in a will or appointed by a probate court, and this individual seeks damages on behalf of the decedent’s relatives. A wrongful death claim may be based upon negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct, so you must prove the relevant facts for these theories of liability.

However, advancements in medicine may enable the victim of an accident to survive for some time after suffering extreme, life-threatening injuries. This scenario can lead to questions about the rights of the victim and survivors, but there are legal options. Consulting with an Anchorage wrongful death attorney is critical, and an overview of the important points is also helpful.


Accidents and Time of Death

The reality is that most accident fatalities occur shortly after the deadly incident. In a study on deadly motor vehicle collisions, researchers discovered that almost half of all deaths occurred within 30 minutes after impact. Around one-quarter of fatalities happen within 30 to 90 minutes. Almost all – 90% – of victims succumb to fatal injuries within 24 hours.


Converting a Personal Injury Case

Because 1 in 10 victims will stabilize and survive longer than a day, there may be questions about legal options. It is always wise to retain legal counsel right away after an accident, and your lawyer may even file a personal injury lawsuit within a few days. If the accident victim does pass away after litigation begins, it is possible to convert the matter into a wrongful death case. The basis of the suit remains the same: Misconduct by the at-fault party was the cause of death. The only additional requirement is showing that the claimant has standing as the decedent’s personal representative.


Challenges With Delayed Death Claims

When the victim passes away long after the accident, there can be questions about some of the basics:

  • The statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death cases is two years, but there are differences in when the clock starts to run. It begins on the date of the accident for injury matters but starts upon the date of death for wrongful death.
  • There can also be causation issues when death occurs well after the incident, as intervening factors may have contributed to the fatality.
  • It may be possible to recover pain and suffering damages that the victim suffered before passing away, but it would be necessary to pursue a survival action.


Learn More by Consulting With an Alaska Wrongful Death Lawyer

There will rarely be a significant delay between the date of a fatal accident and the death of the victim, but it is helpful to know your options. For more information, please contact Power & Power Law by calling our Anchorage, Alaska offices at 907-222-9990 or visiting us online. We can set up a no-cost case review to discuss details.