Wrongful death is a type of claim filed against a person or entity responsible for causing another individual’s death. The case is usually initiated by the deceased’s close relatives, and it is different from a criminal lawsuit. Cases of wrongful death are quite complicated, and they significantly differ from other types of personal injury claims. If you lost a loved one as a result of any form of misconduct or negligence, there are different steps that you should take to hold the liable party responsible for their untimely death. Here are 6 simple tips that will help you handle a wrongful death situation.
1. Prove Liability
In most cases, wrongful deaths are caused by other people’s wrongdoing or negligence. Common causes of wrongful death include road accidents, defective products, workplace accidents, medical malpractice, and negligence. A wrongful death may be intentional or unintentional depending on various circumstances. In the case of negligence, it is critical to prove that someone acted negligently leading to the loss of life. Here are some elements that you must look for to prove liability:
- Duty of care- the defendant owed a duty to ensure the safety of the victim
- Breach of duty- the defendant breached or broke the duty entrusted to them
- Causation- the defendant’s action caused the death of your loved one
- Damages- the death of your loved one has caused financial losses, love, care, and loss of companionship
2. Clarify Your Relationship with the Deceased
Not every person can file a wrongful death lawsuit since the court considers the relationship that existed between the deceased and the claimant. In most cases, a representative from the family of the late person files the claim. Other close relatives who can file a wrongful death include the spouse, children, parents of the deceased, financial dependents, or other members who may have directly been affected and suffered financially. Distant relatives, on the other hand, may have difficulty filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased.
3. Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated since they involve various proceedings. Therefore, it is a good idea to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer to give you legal advice about how you can proceed with the case. The information provided by the Roanoke personal injury lawyers on this website states that wrongful death claims require the expertise of attorneys who are experienced in handling similar cases. Thus, it is essential to hire a specialized lawyer if you want to seek justice.
4. Identify the Liable Party
Wrongful death lawsuits can involve many parties. For instance, if the wrongful death is caused by a car accident, the lawsuit can include defendants, such as the driver, the employer, the manufacturer of the vehicle or specific parts, the government agency responsible for road works, or the person who sold the alcoholic beverages in the case of driving under the influence. The same applies to a wrongful death at work. However, you should know that some agencies or individuals are immune from wrongful death lawsuits.
Government employees or their agencies might not be sued for wrongful death depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Therefore, you should know the right parties to sue for wrongful death and work closely with a professional wrongful death attorney to increase the chances of winning your case.
5. File a Lawsuit
When you have collected all the evidence to prove the merit of your wrongful death lawsuit, the next step is to file a suit against the responsible parties. This process requires the expertise of an experienced lawyer since it involves many things. After filing a lawsuit, your lawyer should represent you in all the court proceedings including the negotiation of the right settlement. You should also know that the settlement you expect is not always guaranteed.
6. Learn About Wrongful Death Damages
Punitive damages are intended to deter the would-be offenders, but they are not always awarded to wrongful death claims. The laws vary by state, so you must understand the legal provisions in your area. Aside from punitive damages, the surviving relatives might be able to recover various damages in a wrongful death claim which include the following:
- Loss of financial support
- Medical expenses incurred by the deceased
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of the deceased’s income
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of inheritance
If your loved one has died as a result of someone’s negligence, you can file a wrongful death claim to recover damages for your loss. However, you must remember that a wrongful death case is quite complicated since it might involve many parties, and you need to prove liability first before you can file a lawsuit. It is, therefore, critical to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney if you want to get a fair settlement and hold the liable party responsible for your loved one’s death.