What’s the Process for Suing for Wrongful Death?
By Chris Dixon
When a person dies because of a medical personnel or facility’s negligence, a wrongful death claim can be filed by the victim’s family to recover damages that the victim could have claimed if they were alive, plus financial and emotional losses that stemmed from the victim’s death. While the type of recoverable damages generally remains the same for wrongful death, the amount that each case is awarded varies greatly. A wrongful death lawyer can assess your situation, determine what damages you could be entitled to, and support you and your family throughout the process of suing for wrongful death.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death laws and statutes are different for each state and include guidelines on the process of suing for wrongful death. Wrongful Death Acts include time frames for filing wrongful death claims, the type of proof that is required, what damages are recoverable, and if there are settlement distribution rules for the damages that a victim’s surviving family members can recover.
In most states in the U.S., wrongful death laws allow for a victim’s immediate family members to file a claim. The relations that are considered eligible vary from state to state, however they typically include:
- Spouses or life partners
- Children or designated heirs
The more distant a relation, the harder it can be to recover damages for a family member’s death caused by another, but with an experienced lawyer by your side, this can speed up the process of suing for wrongful death, increase the chances of recovering full compensation, and protect the victim’s case. A common risk that wrongful death cases face is recovering a lower settlement than the victim’s harm and losses deserve, blame being shifted, and details of the accident becoming lost. A lawyer can ensure that you aren’t taken advantage of during this vulnerable time, your loved one’s rights are protected, and that details are preserved and eligible to be used to support your claim against the negligent party.
How Does the Wrongful Death Process Work?
If someone dies because of another person’s negligence, whether it’s in a motor vehicle accident, due to medical malpractice, or caused by another act of negligence, there are various elements that need to be present for a wrongful death claim to be successful.
A victim’s family members must be able to supply proof of who and what caused their family members’ death (such as a police or autopsy report), proof of death (death certificate), and evidence that surviving family members have experienced harm from the accident (loss of income, loss of consortium). However, in medical malpractice cases, family member’s must also provide proof of a doctor-patient relationship and evidence that displays that the required standard of care wasn’t met and resulted in the victim’s death.
Once evidence is gathered, your lawyer can help you write a compelling demand letter that includes the damages you are claiming from the person responsible for your family member’s death, file a claim against the other party’s insurance company, and negotiate for the highest amount of damages for the victim’s pain and suffering.
The process of suing for wrongful death can take anywhere from a few months or longer depending on the severity of the accident, who was involved, and whether the other party’s insurer is open to negotiations, but this process is sped up if a wrongful death lawyer is representing your case. An experienced lawyer understands the best tactics to use to obtain the results you desire and knows when to push back against the other party to recover the maximum amount of damages for your wrongful death case.
How Can a Lawyer Help with My Wrongful Death Case?
Losing a family member is one of the most traumatic things a person can go through, but if the accident is caused by another person’s negligence this is amplified and can leave a victim’s family members confused about the options available to them to obtain justice for the victim’s death. If you have lost a family member because of another person’s negligence and you are ready to get justice for their wrongful death, contact the Dixon Injury Firm today. Our Wrongful Death Lawyers are available 24/7 to assess your case, create a personalized plan to obtain compensation, and offer support to you and your family during this trying time.