Episode 11: How To Handle Your First Wrongful Death Case
Wrongful death cases can be some of the most challenging cases to work on both from an emotional standpoint, and a tactical or strategic standpoint. Don’t miss this latest episode of The Effective Lawyer, where the helpful Zinda Law Group team has put together a how-to guide on handling your first wrongful death case. Sharing their thoughts and experience with Jack is his law partner, Joe Caputo, and one of the top trial lawyers in the firm, Neil Solomon.
Discussed in this episode:
- The most rewarding cases
- Specific tactics to employ in wrongful death cases
- How they differ from a typical case
- Who the clients are
- Top tips for new trial lawyers
The most rewarding cases
While the team never wants something to happen that will force families to call the Zinda Law Group, they unfortunately come across a number of these challenging cases. They’re difficult for so many reasons. Namely, no rock can be left unturned while finding the liable parties and discovering evidence, as well as recovering information from the families.
But on the other hand, the team is helping families deal with some of the most traumatic things they’ve ever experienced.
“Some of my most rewarding cases that I’ve had the opportunity to work on are ones where a child has lost a parent… and our ability to ensure that they’re going to be taken care of, at least financially, to me, is something that gets me up in the morning and lets me work those extra hours at night and be away from my family.”
The specific tactics
When you work a wrongful death case, you have to employ specific tactics that you might not ordinarily have to use in a typical case.
“The number one thing that you have to make sure you do is go to the client’s house, and sit down with the family and really get their biography. We create a CV of the deceased. And it’s not just their professional resume, but it goes through their entire life from where they were born, where they lived, early childhood, education. We try to keep it to two pages.”
Doing this allows you to get a perspective on how to push the case, what strategy to take, and ultimately allows you to better present their story when the time comes.
The thing about wrongful death law is it is nuanced by what state you’re practicing in. Most often the clients are the spouse, the children, or the living parents of the deceased. Essentially, you’re looking at the closest relatives to that person and branching out from there. If in doubt, draw a family tree.
“Make sure you also get documentation verifying the relationships. You want birth certificates and death certificates, as these can be critical to proving that relationship. You also want to get marriage certificates and review the family law records for any divorces.”
Top tips for new trial lawyers
The team’s top tips for new trial lawyers to wrongful death cases include getting an aggregate settlement agreement that describes how the money is going to be divided up if there’s a limited supply.
“It’s always easier to divide up money that you haven’t gotten, than money once it’s on the table.”
Make sure you know the nuance of where the case can be filed and figure out where that best place is. The different damages you can be awarded vary drastically by state and the venue you’re in.
“And I would say go offer to work with lawyers that have some of these cases and offer to work for free. Or if you get one of these, team up with a very experienced attorney who can show you the ropes.”
ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE LAWYER
The Effective Lawyer teaches ambitious trial lawyers how to grow their skills and create a prosperous law firm. Using lessons learned by accomplished attorneys from around the country, we discuss lessons learned through their trials and tribulations. Our discussions cover a vast range of topics sought out by attorneys looking for advice, from depositions to how to market your law firm. In each show we cover a new topic that an ambitious attorney would want to better understand, while providing practical skills to improve their legal practice.
The show is hosted by Jack Zinda, Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Zinda Law Group. In less than 15 years, Jack and his team have grown Zinda Law Group from 3 attorneys to over 30, spanning several states and handling a variety of personal injury cases from gas explosions to truck accidents.