Everything You Need to Know About Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit can provide family members with the money they need after a loved one dies unexpectedly. However, not everyone qualifies for wrongful death compensation. Therefore, a good first step is to understand what qualifies as a wrongful death. Knowing the basics about wrongful death can point you in the right direction for recovering compensation.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Not every unexpected death qualifies as a wrongful death. Proving wrongful death under personal injury law requires evidence of two facts. You must show that someone acted negligently and someone else died as a result. Once you establish liability for the death, a personal injury lawyer can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Proving that negligence caused a death depends on the situation. For example, if someone died in a car accident, proving wrongful death depends on proving that the other driver’s negligence led to the death. On the other hand, if someone died due to medical care, your lawyer needs to build a case proving that medical malpractice was the reason behind the death.
Proving Wrongful Death
If you want to recover wrongful death compensation, you need to work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer. First, a lawyer needs to identify whether you have grounds for a wrongful death action. Then, they need to see whether there’s enough evidence to back the claim. Finally, they can work to help you recover compensation.
If a lawyer agrees to take on your case, they’ll investigate the cause of death. Then, they’ll collect the evidence they need. Finally, they will try to prove that someone else should be responsible for the financial impact of the death.
Successfully proving wrongful death often takes special knowledge of personal injury law. This knowledge usually needs to be related to the type of accident or injury. Common examples of situations that might give family members grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability
- Workplace injuries
You want to ensure your lawyer has relevant experience to your case. Therefore, it’s best to work with a personal injury lawyer who handles wrongful death lawsuits. Additionally, it’s beneficial if they also have personal injury experience related to the type of accident or injury that led to your loved one’s death.
Identifying Grounds for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you’ve lost a loved one, you might be wondering whether you can recover wrongful death compensation. If so, your first step should be to attend a meeting with a wrongful death lawyer.
A lawyer will review the case and let you know whether you can move forward with a lawsuit. A lawyer will need to identify:
- Whether the death qualifies as wrongful death
- Who caused the death
- Whether there’s enough evidence to prove negligence
- Whether you qualify to file a wrongful death claim
- Your wrongful death case value
- The best approach for recovering compensation
Suppose that a lawyer thinks you have grounds for a wrongful death action. They might first recommend attempting to negotiate a wrongful death settlement. Negotiation is often a faster and simpler process for acquiring the compensation you need.
If a settlement cannot be reached, a lawyer will then move forward with filing a wrongful death lawsuit. At this point, your claim will go to court. Then, your outcome will be decided by a verdict rather than through negotiation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death compensation is usually only an option for immediate relatives. Therefore, you need to be either the parent, child, or spouse of the deceased. Otherwise, you don’t have the legal standing you need to seek wrongful death compensation.
If the deceased left behind underage children, the guardian of the children may also be able to seek compensation on their behalf.
One exception to this general rule is if the deceased left behind an estate. If they had a will and executor in place, the executor might be able to seek wrongful death compensation on behalf of the deceased’s estate. In this case, you’ll need to consult a lawyer to learn more about whether you can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Types of Wrongful Death Compensation
Wrongful death compensation can provide financial support for many different things. For example, suppose the deceased needed medical treatment for their injuries before passing away. In this case, wrongful death compensation can pay you back for medical costs and ambulance bills. Furthermore, it can also pay non-economic compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced due to your loved one’s departure.
Depending on factors like the deceased’s age, health, and number of dependents, you might also be able to seek wrongful death compensation for things like anticipated future earnings.
For example, if the deceased financially supported their spouse or children, a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help recover compensation to cover the income these family members expected the deceased to provide.
Who Pays Wrongful Death Compensation?
In most cases, an insurance company pays wrongful death compensation. Exactly what type of insurance company is responsible for paying out over a wrongful death depends on how the death took place.
For example, if the deceased died in a car accident, compensation will likely come through the other driver’s auto insurance policy. Similarly, if they died as a result of a workplace accident, the employer’s workers’ compensation provider will likely be responsible for paying the wrongful death compensation.
Identifying Wrongful Death Case Value
No two wrongful death lawsuits have the same case value. Therefore, a key part of a lawyer’s job is figuring out how to build a case to increase the compensation value that goes to the deceased’s loved ones.
Many factors impact wrongful death case value. Some of the most important considerations include the deceased’s:
- Medical bills
- Ambulance bills
- Funeral and burial costs
- Number of dependents
Typically, the greater the financial impact of the death, the higher the wrongful death compensation can be. For example, a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of an older person with no dependents would typically bring a smaller compensation value.
Similarly, the death of a young father with several small children at home would bring a comparatively higher amount.
Questions About Wrongful Death Lawsuits? We Can Help
Wrongful death compensation is a complicated type of personal injury claim. However, when you unexpectedly lose a loved one, your ability to survive financially often depends on recovering compensation. Then, this money can help pay for expenses like funeral costs, not to mention losses like the deceased’s former income.
If you think you might have grounds for recovering wrongful death compensation, it’s always worth taking the time to consult a wrongful death lawyer about your options. You can learn more by calling The Joel Bieber Firm and scheduling a meeting with an experienced wrongful death lawyer today.