A wrongful death claim is issued against a defendant who is legally liable for the death of another either through intentional harm or negligence. These claims are filed by the existing estate or surviving family members.
When Can One File for A Wrongful Death Claim?
There are certain circumstances when a wrongful death claim is applicable. These situations include:
If a victim is intentionally killed, then the surviving family members can file for wrongful death.
Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of deaths in the U.S. Doctors, and healthcare practitioners owe a standard of care to their patients. When this is breached, and a patient dies, a wrongful death lawsuit can be made against the doctors responsible.
Fatal Car Accidents
If a victim dies in a car accident and the death is a result of negligence by the defendant, then the surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If a loved one has suffered death as a result of the above, then it is best to consult with a wrongful death lawyer. These lawyers will look at the merits of your case and advise you on the best way forward and how to make a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, defendants are not keen on paying death claims. If this happens to you, then you should file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The procedure to file a wrongful death lawsuit differs from one state to another. In most states, the process starts with a civil case complaint or petition. The petition must be issued to the defendant with a notice detailing the legal and factual grounds for the petition. When filing a lawsuit, you need to file a summons. This is a notice to the defendant that you are suing them. The notice should also include where the case proceedings will be conducted. Once you have filed, all the documents must be issued to the defendants. Again, each state has its own set of rules on how to give notice to the defendants. This is why you need to work closely with a wrongful death attorney. They will advise you on the relevant documents. Additionally, the lawyer will handle all communication and exchange of documents between you and the defendants.
What Must Be Proven in Wrongful Death Claims?
To prove liability in wrongful death cases, the plaintiff must satisfy the burden of proof required of the victim had he lived. This means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant first owed a duty of care, that this care was breached and finally that the breach resulted in the death of the victim. Proving negligence even in a seemingly straightforward case is not easy. This emphasizes the need to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Why You Should Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases are complicated. Again, different states apply different laws when it comes to wrongful death and personal injury cases. For instance, the statute of limitations varies in different states. In Florida, you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years, and in Montana, it is three years. It is imperative that you consult with an attorney for the following reasons.
Preservation of Evidence
Proving negligence requires hard evidence. It is best to get this evidence at the scene of the crime. The evidence needs to be collected before it is lost. You may not have the time or the skill to gather evidence. Again, you need to take time to mourn, heal and move on. The attorney will ensure that all evidence is preserved and presented in court to improve the credibility of your case.
Witnesses are essential when proving your case. The attorney will contact the witnesses and ask them to appear in court to give their count of the story. The wrongful death lawyer will also guide the witness on how to answer the questions.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
It is not unusual for insurance companies to attempt to pay as little as they can. Insurance adjusters can be intimidating. Most plaintiffs merely settle for the first offer made because they are not able to battle it out with the insurance companies. Lawyers have dealt with insurance companies before, and they will not settle for the first offer made. You need a lawyer who can face the insurance companies and secure the settlement you deserve.
Meeting Court Deadlines
Once you file a claim, you need to honor all court deadlines. The documents required must be submitted within set timeframes. In most cases, you need to move fast to ensure that the lawyer has enough time to investigate the claim. If you lose a loved one, you may not have the time to meet court deadlines and ensure all documents are submitted in time.
Securing Fair Compensation
The stakes are very high when it comes to wrongful death cases. In addition to dealing with the emotional trauma, you have financial obligations that must be honored. These include medical expenses and funeral costs. If the deceased was the breadwinner, you also need to factor in utility bills, mortgage payments, and any outstanding loans. These financial obligations can cripple you financially. A wrongful death attorney will work with you to help you calculate all your current and future expenses.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most personal injury and wrongful death cases do not make it to court. Most people accept settlements and lose the right to sue. Lawyers are skilled negotiators. In addition to this, they are not afraid to go to court and battle it out with the insurance lawyers.
If you are grieving the death of a loved one as a result of negligence, it is in your best interest to seek the expertise of a wrongful death lawyer. These lawyers will fight to ensure that you are adequately compensated for the loss and all future financial cost implications.
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