Wrongful death lawyers can help grieving family members by doing various things. They can look into the facts surrounding your loved one’s death, determine liability, advise you on the legal rights, and potentially file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf, seeking compensation for the damages incurred from their death.
Let’s know the details about what does a wrongful death lawyer do.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If someone dies due to someone else’s negligence or misbehavior, the surviving members of the victim’s family may initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. This is a personal injury lawsuit in that the deceased individual can no longer pursue themselves. Instead, the departed’s survivors must claim to show liability and collect damages in court.
Wrongful death claims are typically handled under personal injury law, and the legal process, standards, deadlines, and regulations are all the same.
Who is Eligible to File Wrongful Death Claims?
The deceased’s representative must bring a wrongful death suit. Personal representatives are usually the surviving spouse or adult siblings. If these people are unable or unwilling to serve as personal representatives, the court can appoint one on a motion. The deceased’s estate holds any damages awarded due to the suit for the benefit of their surviving relatives.
If the deceased’s spouse has no children, the spouse is responsible for all damages. When the spouse passes away but any of their children or grandkids are still alive, the damages are split between them.
On the other hand, if the dead had no spouse or children, or if the children are minors, the damages are paid to the child’s parents. Moreover, damages will go to siblings if there are no living parents.
What Wrongful Death Lawyers Do?
Following are some of the significant roles played by wrongful death lawyers:
Investigating the Death of a Loved One
In wrongful death claims, the facts are frequently ambiguous. People may give contradictory stories of what occurred. This could be due to fundamental misunderstandings or confusion.
When a responsible individual or entity tries to cover or pass the blame to avoid admitting accountability, it can also happen. A wrongful death lawyer can look into the situation and determine what transpired.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 33,654 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2018. If your loved one was killed in a car accident, a lawyer could look over the police record and testimonies from witnesses or anybody inside the car at that time.
A lawyer may learn that the crash, or the events leading up to or soon following it, were captured on video by a nearby surveillance camera. A video holding evidence of the other driver acting recklessly could be critical. That information could come in handy if you’re putting up a wrongful death lawsuit.
Besides, if your loved one died due to a medical error, you might be able to file a wrongful death claim. According to Johns Hopkins University, medical errors cause one out of ten deaths.
To evaluate if the responsible physician treating the deceased meets healthcare standards, a lawyer can analyze medical records and solicit the help of one or more specialists.
The inquiry uncovers that the doctor made an incorrect diagnosis, provided a treatment that was contraindicated for the deceased or to which they had a known allergy, or made a surgical error. This could aid the legal team in proving the physician’s medical misconduct. That evidence could also help the team prepare a claim against the hospital where your loved one was treated.
Explaining Your Legal Rights
The laws governing wrongful death cases differ from one state to the next. You may not be able to claim compensation, depending on your location.
In certain areas, the ability to sue is limited to close family members. In contrast, in others, distant relatives—and even nonrelatives—are allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits in certain circumstances.
In other areas, family members are not allowed to sue. Instead, only the deceased’s estate representative is permitted to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. The representative rightfully distributes the funds to qualified relatives if they get a monetary prize.
A Lawyer Can Sue for Monetary Damages
A wrongful death attorney might seek compensation for both monetary and nonmonetary losses. Costs of medical care your family member got before death, burial and funeral expenses, and loss of income your family member would have earned if they had lived are all examples of economic damages.
It’s more challenging to estimate noneconomic damages, including:
The loss of love, support, camaraderie, and affection that survivors received from their deceased
The mental agony brought about by the wrongful death.
You may also be able to claim punitive damages in specific cases. These additional costs are intended to punish the party responsible for the particularly heinous activity and to serve as a deterrent to others from engaging in similar behavior.
Types of Damages that Can Be Collected in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A person is entitled to damages if they survive an injury or illness caused by another’s negligence or willful conduct. Typically, these damages cover medical expenses such as rehabilitation, diagnostic tests, and prescriptions that are required to aid in their recovery. They are also entitled to compensation for time spent away from work as a result of their injury.
They may also be able to recover non-monetary and monetary damages. In a wrongful death claim, the same damages may be obtained. Wrongful death lawsuits can enable for the recovery of costs associated with the death, such as funeral and burial fees.
Other non-economic losses may be available to family members. The nature of these damages makes estimating the amount of compensation a family will receive difficultly. A kid who loses a parent, for example, loses the parent’s company, advice, and potential inheritance.
In addition to other damages, a surviving spouse may be entitled to compensation for the loss of companionship.
A lawyer with wrongful death experience can examine all relevant information and establish a reasonable compensation amount for your circumstances. The lawyer can file a lawsuit and try to reach an out-of-court settlement with the client.
While many civil matters are resolved through settlements, there are situations when the parties cannot reach an agreement. If this occurs, a lawyer may file a lawsuit and get a jury to decide if you should be compensated or not and, if so, how much.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes something wrongful death?
The accountable person acted (or did not) prudently and reasonably. Your loved one was injured due to this careless or malevolent conduct. As a consequence of this damage, your loved one died. This is the criteria for wrongful death.
What are the most common causes of wrongful death?
Car accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, work accidents, and pedestrian accidents are some of the most common causes of wrongful death.
What is the highest wrongful death settlement?
The highest wrongful death settlement is $13,600,000.00 from the Estate of Indugula v. Salesforce.com Inc. et al. case.
How is negligence proved in a wrongful death case?
In wrongful death lawsuits, negligence is established by demonstrating that the defendant's acts were careless. Furthermore, it must be shown that the defendant's negligent, thoughtless conduct resulted in the death of the loved one in a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
What is crucial when collecting evidence to determine a wrongful death?
Any piece of evidence proving negligence or making a connection between the victim and the responsible party needs to be the first and foremost priority.