According to the legal dictionary definition, wrongful death is the death of one person as the direct result of the wrongful act of another person. These wrongful acts can include things like negligence such as in the case of careless driving, an intentional attack such as battery or assault, manslaughter, or murder. When death occurs due to these wrongful acts, it is the basis of a lawsuit filed by the members of the deceased family against those who caused the death of their loved one.
However, wrongful death is more than just as dictionary definition. If you are reading this article to get support after the wrongful death of your loved one, we are truly sorry for your loss. Loss of a loved one is a tragic trial and for a life to be lost in such a way that calls for a wrongful death claim, the already strong emotions of grief are amplified in an unprecedented way.
The painful truth is that even though it may not be a priority on the minds of grieving families, it is never too soon to start investigating the options surrounding making a wrongful death claim. While support will be available at any stage, it is best to call sooner rather than later as the window of opportunity, particularly if evidence needs to be gathered, gradually narrows over time. The aim of this article is to give balanced and sincere guidance on what is involved in making a wrongful death claim so that grieving families have all the information they need to get justice for their loved one and support for those who depended on them.
The Ins and Outs of Making a Wrongful Death Claim
What are the laws? Each state of America has its own laws regarding filing lawsuits in the event of a wrongful death. In some states, the family must file two different claims: a “wrongful death claim” to gain the value of the life of the deceased and a “survival claim” to recover the expenses incurred by the funeral, the emotional pain and suffering that resulted from the loss, or any other punitive damages. In a lot of states, the time limit within which you can file a claim varies depending on the circumstances of the death. Evidently, it is important to get to know the laws of the state, and to hire a lawyer that understands them fully.
Who can sue? Again, this depends on the state. Many state laws provide for recovery to be given to surviving spouses, immediate family members, and children, In some cases, even the parents of a deceased foetus are able to file a wrongful lawsuit.
What evidence do you need to have to prove wrongful death? To successful start the process of filing a wrongful death claim, there are a few pieces of information that must be proved by evidence. These include things like:
- Evidence of the death of a person.
- Evidence that the death was caused by another person’s negligence or with intent.
- Evidence that the surviving family members are suffering financially due to the death of their loved one.
Also, it is essential to appoint a personal representative for the estate of the deceased.
With so much to consider and such a long process to be involved in, it’s vital to get the help of a legal professional and hire a wrongful death lawyer. What do you need to think about as you go about doing this?
What to Consider When Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death lawsuit is an emotionally charged and stressful procedure, so it’s essential that you find a wrongful death attorney that can be of the best assistance. You need, and deserve, a lawyer that is experienced in cases of a similar nature, knows the laws of your state, understands what you want to achieve, and is on your side throughout the whole process. A professional wrongful death lawyer will fight for your case, for compensation, for justice. How can you go about choosing a lawyer to carry such a heavy responsibility?
- Do Your Research. Read reviews, ask people you know, look for local lawyers with good online reviews. You want to find a lawyer with a good reputation, whether that’s through word of mouth or through doing a little homework online.
- Look for Experience. There is no shortage of lawyers in the US, but there are some who have more experience than others. You will have a great chance of success, and a greater feeling of security, if you can find a lawyer with good hands-on experience with cases like yours.
- Schedule a Meeting. Once you have a shortlist, make some in person appointments to get to know the potential lawyers. Prepare the questions you want to ask them beforehand, make lots of notes, and base your decision on the information you gather for yourself.
Coping with a Loved One’s Wrongful Death
While all of this will help you to navigate the legalities of your loved one’s death, the pain and grief you feel may be overwhelming. The sudden loss of a family member under seemingly avoidable circumstances is devastating. It’s normal to feel anger and pain, even apathy or numbness at times. As you pass on the legal responsibilities to a qualified professional to handle the financial recovery, you will have more time and energy to focus on the emotional recovery. Don’t rush this recovery but accept that it will take time. Recovery is not linear, there will be good days and bad days, remember that it is part of the process, and unfortunately it can’t be sped up. Keep to a routine and make plans to see friends, family, and individuals within your support network. The goal of the lawyer you hire to make the process as stress-free as possible, so you don’t need to feel like the lawsuit is taking over your life. Remember your loved one, talk about them and think about the good times. The road may be bumpy but with the right support system in place, and legal professionals to do what you can’t, it is possible help yourself and your loved ones cope with the death of a relative.