What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is a claim arising from a death that was caused by the wrongful acts of another. These wrongful acts usually arise out of negligence. Examples include but are not limited to police misconduct, vehicle accidents, fires and explosions, faulty product, aircraft accidents, dangerous pharmaceuticals, medical malpractice, and a dangerous roadway.
Both a criminal and a civil claim may be brought as a result of the wrongful death of an individual.
Who can sue for wrongful death and when must they sue?
The individuals who may receive compensation through a civil claim are limited and usually determined by state law. For example, a state may only allow a spouse and surviving children to recover so it is very important that you consult an attorney to understand whether you have a claim based on your relationship. It is also very important to speak with an attorney immediately after the incident so that your claim is properly evaluated and the statute of limitations does not preclude you from recovering.
Why should I pursue a wrongful death lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims help assist loved ones who are left behind by paying expenses. These expenses include but are not limited to funeral arrangements, medical bills, and lost wages. It can also compensate loved ones for loss of love, help around the home, and pain and suffering. It is very important that you consult with a wrongful death lawyer for an exhaustive list of remedies available in your state.
What should I consider when meeting with a wrongful death or personal injury lawyer?
So what should you look for when consulting with a wrongful death or personal injury lawyer? The first thing to look for is proper evaluation of your case. Some personal injury lawyers do not take cases because they do not believe the case will proceed past a motion for summary judgment. Read about how Christina Ignatius handles MSJs. Other personal injury lawyers will not take cases because they do not believe the cases are financially worth it to take. Some personal injury lawyers do not take wrongful death cases because these cases are not in their area of expertise or are too large. And some lawyers do not take wrongful death cases because their calendar is too full. But the worst thing to do is to tell a potential client that they have no case at all when they have a great case. For example, a personal injury lawyer could be using the wrong standard of care when applying your facts to a negligence claim. So you need to know exactly why a personal injury attorney is not taking your wrongful death case.
The next thing to look out for is lawyer involvement and investment. Some personal injury attorneys take cases and pass them on to personal injury associates, who rarely keep you apprised of your personal injury case. So pay close attention to whether your wrongful death claim is one of 30, 50, or 100 personal injury cases on a lawyer’s desk.
The next thing to be aware of is potential outcome. Make sure you understand the potential outcome of your case. Some cases are extremely risky to pursue but the potential outcome is great.
The next thing to look for is whether the personal injury lawyer and the client are asking the right questions. Both the personal injury lawyer and the client should make sure they ask the right questions to pull out the best facts that are actually important to the wrongful death claim.
The last thing to look out for is whether you are making an attempt to negotiate with your own insurance company without a lawyer. An insurance company will make you feel like their offer is reasonable. However, most offers are not reasonable, nor do they properly project your harm and the results of that harm into the future. In fact, they must make a lowball offer because they have shareholders. So make sure you look out for lowball offers that are driven by the bottom dollar. This is why attorneys like myself can sue insurance companies for bad faith and seek punitive damages to punish insurance companies for amounts around 9 to 1.