A wrongful death incident is a legal term referring to a situation where a person’s death is directly attributed to the negligence or misconduct of another individual or entity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental injury is the third leading cause of death in the United States, many of which could qualify as wrongful death cases under law.
The National Safety Council further reports that every 10 minutes, there are approximately 3 fatal accidents due to such negligence. As the statistics show, wrongful death is a significant issue, carrying deep emotional and financial implications for the surviving family members.
In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the key factors that one must consider before filing a wrongful death lawsuit, helping to navigate this complex and sensitive legal process.
Establishing the Basis for Wrongful Death
The plaintiff must be able to prove that the death of their loved one was caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions. This is known as the “basis” or “grounds” of the wrongful death lawsuit.
In legal terms, this is referred to as “burden of proof.” The plaintiff must prove that their version of events is more likely than not the correct one. Consulting with your wrongful death lawyer can help you understand what constitutes sufficient proof in your case. This burden of proof can often be challenging to establish in a wrongful death case.
It requires substantial evidence and expert testimony to link the defendant’s actions or inactions directly to the victim’s death. This is where having an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side can greatly help in building a strong case.
In most states, the lawsuit must be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who have suffered damage from the decedent’s death, usually the executor of the decedent’s estate. However, if there is no executor or the will does not appoint one, the court may appoint a representative.
This is an essential factor to consider as the legal representative has a crucial role in filing and overseeing the wrongful death lawsuit. For example, if the representative is a close family member who is grieving and emotionally involved in the case, they may not be able to fully focus on the legal aspects of the lawsuit.
It is recommended to appoint an impartial representative or hire a wrongful death attorney to handle the legal matters. If the representative is not chosen carefully, it may negatively affect the outcome of the case.
Each state has a specific period within which a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed. Missed deadlines can result in the lawsuit being dismissed. It is crucial to consult with a wrongful death attorney immediately after the incident to understand the applicable statute of limitations and avoid missing any deadlines. Your attorney can also ensure that all necessary paperwork and evidence is collected within the given timeline, strengthening your case.
For example, in California, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the date of death. Consult with your attorney to understand how this may vary depending on your state and specific case circumstances.
When in doubt, it’s always better to act quickly and file the lawsuit within the prescribed timeline. In addition, some exceptions can extend the statute of limitations, such as when the defendant is a government entity, so it’s best to seek legal advice to understand all possibilities.
The plaintiff should consider the financial impact of the loss, including medical bills, funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Depending on the state and specific case, there may also be provisions for punitive damages.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help calculate the damages to seek in your lawsuit accurately. It is crucial to have a realistic understanding of the financial implications of the loss to ensure that you are seeking appropriate compensation.
For example, if a family member was the primary breadwinner and their sudden death has left the surviving family in financial distress, seeking appropriate damages can help alleviate the burden.
Most importantly, seeking monetary damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and potentially prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
Availability of Evidence
The availability of solid evidence that can demonstrate the defendant’s liability is crucial. This evidence can include police reports, medical records, witness testimonies, and expert opinions. Gathering this evidence can be a daunting task, especially for individuals who are already dealing with the emotional impact of losing a loved one. It is essential to have an experienced wrongful death attorney who can handle this aspect of the case efficiently. They can also help in obtaining necessary documentation through legal means and ensure that all evidence is presented in a way that strengthens your case. Moreover, an attorney can also help you understand the admissibility of evidence, ensuring that it is not thrown out by the court. When it comes to wrongful death lawsuits, evidence is key in establishing the defendant’s liability and seeking appropriate compensation.
Wrongful death cases can be complex, so it’s advisable to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney who can guide you through the process. An attorney can help you understand the legal intricacies of your case, answer any questions you may have, and provide valuable insight into the potential outcome. They can also negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and ensure that all necessary deadlines are met. Additionally, having an attorney by your side can alleviate some of the stress associated with navigating a wrongful death lawsuit. They will handle all legal matters so that you can focus on grieving and healing from the loss of your loved one. When selecting an attorney, be sure to choose one with experience and a proven track record of successfully handling wrongful death cases.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit may seem overwhelming, but with the help of an experienced attorney, it can be a smoother process. Understanding the key factors outlined in this article can help you make informed decisions and ensure that your case is handled effectively. Ultimately, seeking justice for your loved one’s untimely death is crucial in finding closure and holding the responsible party accountable. So, if you believe that your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or misconduct, it may be worth considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit to seek the justice and compensation your family deserves.