What Information Will My Attorney Need in Order to Start My Wrongful Death Case?
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The American legal system has recognized and provided a process for the close family of a loved one to bring a lawsuit against the person or party that caused their family member’s death. The claim is called a wrongful death claim, available when the misconduct of another person causes the death of a close family member.
Losing a loved one is a very sad and tragic event, and while government criminal prosecution may or may not bring charges against the liable party, the close family is generally allowed to bring a separate civil lawsuit against the wrongdoer and seek monetary damages for the wrongful death.
If a close loved one of yours has been killed due to the misconduct of another person, you might be entitled to bring a lawsuit against them. Call Zinda Law Group today at (800)-863-5312 to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by a representative of the lost family member against the defendant that caused the wrongful death. The claim allows the representative to seek monetary damages from the party or parties that caused the death by misconduct. Misconduct includes negligence (acting unreasonably or unsafely), acting recklessly, or by intentional behavior.
The party that caused the wrongful death can be a person, multiple people, or an entity – like a company or government agency. In most cases, the representatives entitled to bring a wrongful death claim include the surviving spouse, then the children, parents, and legal representative of the estate.
The monetary damages that the representative can seek include medical bills and treatments the family member underwent before their death, the emotional trauma of the surviving family member such as grief, extreme sadness, anxiety, as well as loss of companionship, financial support, insurance coverage, and the lost past, current, and future wages of the decedent.
Damages usually also include funeral and burial costs, and any losses to the estate.
Some of the common causes of wrongful deaths are similar to the causes in personal injury cases, commonly including car accidents, medical malpractice, product liability and defects, intentional criminal behavior, and other accidents such as slip and falls or workplace accidents.
Like many legal claims, in order to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim, the party bringing a claim will need some information that legally supports their suspicion the defendant was responsible for the death of their loved one.
Any notes you may have from the incident or accident that caused the wrongful death may be useful to your attorney in proving your claim. Nevertheless, experienced attorneys know the legal process for gaining evidence not currently in your possession that may be instrumental in supporting your claim.
1) In-Depth Attorney Investigation
An experienced wrongful death attorney can conduct an in-depth investigation in order to seek and acquire evidence necessary in demonstrating the suspected fault of the other party. This includes gathering all relevant evidence as well as discovering new information that may be in the hands of the other party or various third parties. Your attorney can compile all of the information possible in order to support your claim legally.
Some common documents useful in showing suspected faults will be police reports, witness testimonials, as well as photo and video documentation of the incident leading to the wrongful death.
As is common in many cases, some evidence relevant in proving the suspected fault of the defendant will be in the hands of the defendant or third party. The court system allows for a full discovery period before trials that require the other party to preserve and hand over relevant evidence in your case to your attorney and to the court.
The evidence your attorney gathers through investigations, combined with evidence and admissions gained during the discovery period, can help support your claim of the other party’s suspected fault. Evidence gained in discovery may help solidify and tie all of the evidence together. The opposing party will be legally liable to hand over all relevant evidence during discovery sought by your experienced attorney.
Having an experienced wrongful death attorney is important as your attorney can know which evidence to seek in discovery to show negligence or fault of the other party.
3) Pain and Suffering
The court system allows the family members bringing the wrongful death claim to seek monetary compensation for their own pain and suffering attributed to losing their loved one. In many cases, this takes the form of emotional and psychological trauma. Your attorney may help demonstrate these damages to the court and, importantly, before a jury. In many cases, these damages may be shown through doctor visits, personal testimony, and the testimony of others.
The pain a family feels at the unexpected loss of a close family member is real and can be incredibly severe. Therefore, it is important to receive legal counsel from a compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorney who can work to demonstrate and prove the gravity of your damages.
Process of a Wrongful Death Claim
1. Get an Attorney
The first step in a wrongful death claim is speaking with an experienced wrongful death attorney. They can educate you of your legal rights and the general process, as well as navigate the legal process on your behalf.
2. Attorney Investigations
Typically, the first step your attorney might take is an investigation into the evidence. Your attorney can conduct in-depth investigations into the accident or incident that caused the wrongful death. This can include talking to all applicable witnesses, requesting documents from other parties, companies, and government entities, as well as seeking expert testimony.
3. Expert Testimony
Expert testimony may include expert medical opinions about what the doctor or medical staff did wrong in a medical malpractice case, or about how a reasonable person would have acted in a given situation. Further, expert medical professionals may be able to attest to the pain and suffering of the surviving family members.
Essentially, your attorney can use their legal resources to seek expert evidence about how the defendant was unreasonable, about the severity of your own pain and suffering, and can compile evidence in a way that is legally compliant in order to seek your maximum compensation for the wrongful death.
4. Settlement / Trial
In some cases, the evidence your attorney compiles may be so substantial that the other party or parties seek a settlement to avoid a loss at trial or extended legal costs, while in other cases the greatest compensation may be sought by taking your case to trial.
Attorneys work in the best interests of their clients and communicate with the other parties and the court.
If your case ends up going to trial, your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf with the court, pleading the summary of your case and why you may be entitled to compensation for the wrongful death from the other party. Your attorney can conduct legal interviews with crucial parties in the claim, including the other party, as well as use legal research to show why you should win your claim.
After the evidence discovery period ends, settlement negotiations may again occur as more complete evidence is acquired, and the other party may be wary of losing at trial.
If the case goes all the way to trial, your lawyer can argue your case before the court and a jury. Your attorney can lay out the evidence in your favor before the court and seek your highest compensation for the wrongful death caused by the other party or parties.
Statute of Limitations
Wrongful death claims are bound by a legal time limit, called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations provides a period where a claim may be brought against the offending party, but after the period ends the claim will no longer be available.
Typically, the most immediate family – such as a surviving spouse – can bring a lawsuit any time within the statute of limitations, depending on the state. If there is no surviving spouse, then surviving children, then parents and the legal representative can bring a claim within the legal time period.
An experienced wrongful death attorney will educate you about your legal rights, including the specific statute of limitations in your case and in your state.
OUR EXPERIENCED WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEYS CAN HELP!
Unexpectedly losing a close family member due to the misconduct of another party is a saddening and tragic event. While a criminal case may be brought by the government against the defendant, close family members may bring a separate civil case in order to seek monetary compensation from the defendant.
An experienced and compassionate wrongful death attorney may be able to help you bring a claim against the opposing party for their misconduct.
At Zinda Law Group, we have attorneys with the resources to help you seek maximum compensation from the party that caused the wrongful death. Call Zinda Law Group today at (800)-863-5312 for a free consultation.
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