Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, and the grief can be even more profound when the death results from someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. In such cases, the surviving family members may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for their losses. However, pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a complex and challenging process, and working with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the legal system is important. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of finding a local wrongful death attorney for your case and provide tips on choosing the right attorney to represent you and your family during this difficult time.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought by the surviving family members or the estate of a person who died due to the negligence or intentional harm of another person or entity. In such cases, the surviving family members may be entitled to financial compensation for their loved one’s wrongful death.
Wrongful death can occur in various situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and other accidents caused by someone else’s negligence. To bring a wrongful death lawsuit, the plaintiff (the person bringing the case) must prove that the defendant (the person or entity being sued) was responsible for the victim’s death.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a way for surviving family members to seek justice and financial compensation for the untimely death of their loved one caused by the negligence or intentional harm of another person or entity.
How To Prove a Wrongful Death
To prove wrongful death, the plaintiff must show that:
- The defendant had a duty of care toward the victim. For example, a driver has a responsibility to follow traffic laws and avoid causing accidents.
- The defendant breached that duty by acting negligently, recklessly, or intentionally. For example, a driver texting while driving may have breached their duty of care.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused the victim’s death. For example, the victim may have died from injuries sustained in a car accident caused by the distracted driver.
- The victim’s death caused the surviving family members to suffer damages, such as emotional pain and suffering, lost income, medical expenses, and funeral expenses.
Suppose the plaintiff can successfully prove these four elements. In that case, they may be entitled to financial compensation, including damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost income, loss of companionship, and pain and suffering. The number of damages awarded can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Immediate family members such as spouses, legal partners, children, and parents of the deceased may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In cases of wrongful death caused by negligence or accidents, family members of the deceased may claim damages from the responsible party.
The surviving spouse and minor children of a deceased person are automatically made eligible to claim damages for the death of their family member. Legal partners registered under the law in a marriage or civil partnership can claim damages for the death of their spouse or partner.
Other immediate family members may be eligible if they have endured the loss of a family member due to negligence or an accident on the part of another person. These family members include siblings, grandparents, cousins, and other relatives who rely on the deceased person for financial or emotional support.
To be found guilty of wrongful death, the defendant must have caused death in an intentional, reckless, or negligent manner. A criminal trial may have already seen the defendant guilty of causing death, but this doesn’t mean that civil wrongful death claims would not be entertained.
Damages Covered in a Wrongful Death Claim
When someone dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional act of another person or entity, the surviving family members may bring a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for their losses. The damages covered in a wrongful death claim vary depending on the circumstances of the case but generally include the following:
- Economic damages: These are the financial losses suffered by the surviving family members as a result of the victim’s death. Economic damages may include:
- Loss of financial support: This includes the income the victim would have earned had they lived. The amount of the loss is calculated based on the victim’s income and the number of years they were expected to work.
- Medical expenses: If the victim incurred medical expenses before death, the surviving family members might be entitled to reimbursement.
- Funeral and burial expenses: The funeral and burial expenses can be significant, and the surviving family members may be entitled to compensation.
- Non-economic damages are losses that are more difficult to quantify and are often referred to as “pain and suffering.” Non-economic damages may include:
- Loss of companionship: This includes the loss of the love, affection, and companionship the surviving family members would have received from the victim.
- Mental anguish: The surviving family members may experience emotional pain and suffer due to the victim’s death.
- Loss of consortium refers to the loss of intimacy and relationship between the victim and their spouse or partner.
- Punitive damages: In some cases, the defendant’s behavior may have been so egregious that the court may award punitive damages. Punitive damages punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
The damages awarded in a wrongful death claim can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case. It is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
How to Choose a Wrongful Death Attorney
Choosing the right wrongful death attorney is critical in seeking justice and compensation for losing a loved one. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a wrongful death attorney:
- Experience: Look for an attorney who has experience in handling wrongful death cases. An experienced attorney will be familiar with the legal system, the laws related to wrongful death claims, and the procedures for pursuing compensation.
- Expertise: Consider an attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases. A specialized attorney will have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in these cases and be well-equipped to navigate the legal process.
- Communication: You want an attorney who is responsive to your needs and can communicate your legal options. During the initial consultation, pay attention to the attorney’s communication skills and how they answer your questions.
- Reputation: Look for an attorney with a strong reputation in the legal community. You can research an attorney’s reputation by reading reviews from previous clients, checking online forums, and looking at the attorney’s credentials and awards.
- Resources: Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be expensive and time-consuming. Look for an attorney with the resources to handle your case, including a team of professionals who can conduct investigations, gather evidence, and prepare your case for trial.
- Compassion: Losing a loved one is an emotional and traumatic experience. You want an attorney who can provide emotional support and guidance during this difficult time.
- Contingency fee: Many wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. This can be a good option if you do not have the financial resources to pay for legal fees upfront.
Choosing the right wrongful death attorney is critical in seeking justice for your loved one. Take your time and choose an attorney with the experience, expertise, and compassion to handle your case and achieve the best possible outcome.
As discussed in this blog post, it is crucial to work with a local wrongful death attorney with the experience, expertise, and compassion to handle your case and achieve the best possible outcome. Following the tips we’ve outlined, you can find an attorney who will guide you through the legal system and help you take control of your future after a tragic loss. Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone. A qualified wrongful death attorney can provide you with the support and guidance you need during this difficult time.
At Morgan Legal Group, they believe that every family deserves the opportunity to pursue justice and seek compensation for wrongful death. If you have questions about finding a lawyer to help you with your case, please don’t hesitate to contact them.