When a loved one dies in a fatal accident, the surviving family members are left to face sudden life-changing pain and grief. When someone else caused the accident that stole the family member’s life, it only adds to the shock, anger, and sadness surrounding the situation.
While a wrongful death lawyer cannot undo your loss, an attorney can help in many ways. As you deal with final arrangements and outstanding expenses, a compassionate attorney can guide you through the legal process and help you bring a claim to recover financial compensation for the expenses associated with your loss from the responsible party.
A Dedicated Wrongful Death Attorney Has Two Main Goals
Using their experience, skills, and resources, wrongful death attorneys seek to hold responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions.
Successfully bringing a wrongful death claim takes extensive legal knowledge and tenacity. Working with a skilled wrongful death lawyer can increase your chances of receiving a fair and reasonable resolution.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
When someone else acts negligently, carelessly, or recklessly and creates a situation that causes someone’s death, the negligent person can be held legally responsible for certain losses.
Whether you are seeking justice for the untimely passing of your loved one, financial compensation to help cover the costs of the loss, or simply another form of closure, consider bringing a wrongful death action.
The legal elements of a wrongful death claim
A wrongful death claim is based on the legal premise that a negligent person who creates a situation that leads to another person’s death is responsible for the resulting legal damages.
Similar to a personal injury claim, a claimant or plaintiff must prove four elements to succeed in a wrongful death action:
- Duty of Care: The at-fault party, known as the defendant, must have owed a duty of care to the person who died (legally called a decedent). This means that the defendant had a legal obligation to act reasonably to avoid causing harm to the decedent. Whether a duty of care exists depends on the specific circumstances.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant must have breached their duty of care. This means that the defendant failed to act in a reasonable manner, which resulted in the other person’s death. Breaches of duty can take many forms, such as driving recklessly, failing to maintain property in a safe way, or failing to warn about a known hazard.
- The Breach Caused the Death: The defendant’s negligence or carelessness must be a direct and proximate cause of the death. The claimant must establish a clear link between the defendant’s actions or inactions and the decedent’s death.
- The Claimant Incurred Legal Damages: The surviving family members must have suffered damages due to the death. These damages can include economic losses, such as lost income or funeral expenses, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of companionship.
Trust a Skilled Injury Lawyer to Build a Solid Claim
To meet the legal burden of proof, a claimant must submit evidence supporting each of these four elements. While you are grieving the loss of your loved one, simply thinking about preparing a legal claim can be overwhelming. This is where an attorney can help ease your burden and bring peace of mind.
When you work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer, they know how to build a strong legal case while allowing you and your family the time and space needed to address your emotional concerns. It’s never too early to reach out to a compassionate wrongful death attorney to learn more and take this weight off your shoulders.
Berry Law’s Team Provides You With Multiple Attorney Perspectives
6 Ways an Attorney Can Help After the Loss of a Loved One
After the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one in a tragic accident, you may not know what to do next.
When you realize that someone else caused your loss, you may feel the need to seek justice to hold that person or entity accountable for what they have done. You may also be facing financial problems due to medical bills, funeral expenses, and other related costs that you can’t pay without your loved one’s income.
During this tumultuous time, a wrongful death lawyer can help guide you through the legal process and find some sense of closure for you and your family.
Here are six ways a wrongful death lawyer can help at this time.
1. Explain your legal rights, what you need to prove, and how the process works
Not every situation qualifies as a wrongful death case, and not every person can legally bring a wrongful death claim.
In some states, wrongful death laws allow surviving family members to bring a claim or lawsuit, while in other states, only an estate representative can file an action. A local wrongful death attorney can explain how the law works in your jurisdiction.
Also, an experienced injury lawyer understands the evidence needed to prove a legal claim for wrongful death and how to find it. They can describe how the insurance claim process works and what happens if you need to file a lawsuit.
Your wrongful death lawyer must also understand the applicable deadlines to bring such a claim, known as statutes of limitation, to ensure you do not miss your opportunity to seek the financial justice you deserve.
2. Investigate the circumstances and gather important evidence
If you contact an injury lawyer quickly, they can go to the accident scene and perform an investigation. Physical evidence can disappear quickly, so it’s best to start this process as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can also request specific evidence such as police reports, accident reconstruction studies, medical records and bills, eyewitness statements, video recordings, and other relevant information.
Using this evidence, a thorough wrongful death lawyer can build a strong legal case on your behalf. Also, attorneys have the ability to research relevant laws and past cases to help support your claim for financial compensation.
3. Determine which losses you can recover and calculate fair damages
When you bring a wrongful death claim, you may be entitled to various types of financial compensation for your losses. These losses usually fall into two categories—economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are proven through documentation such as bills, statements, and receipts. Common economic damages in wrongful death cases can include final medical expenses, transport to the hospital from an accident scene, funeral costs, cremation or burial expenses, and lost financial contributions, including lost income.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and harder to quantify in a wrongful death claim. However, they are no less important. A knowledgeable lawyer understands how to calculate a fair value for these types of losses. Common wrongful death non-economic damages include your loved one’s pain and suffering, your loss of companionship and family relationships, and emotional distress.
4. Act as your advocate and voice during negotiations or in court
After compiling the evidence needed to make a wrongful death claim, your attorney can communicate with insurance companies, opposing counsel, or others on your behalf. They can help you determine a fair settlement value and negotiate for the best possible outcome.
If a reasonable settlement is not possible, a prepared and experienced attorney can file a wrongful death lawsuit to request compensation from a judge or jury.
5. Represent you and your family in wrongful death litigation
Once a lawsuit is initiated within the statute of limitations, your attorney must prepare and file certain documents, exchange information with the defendant’s counsel, and report to the court on a regular basis. While preparing a case for trial, both sides may continue settlement negotiations, in order to avoid the time, expense, and stress of litigation.
If the case doesn’t settle beforehand, your claim will be scheduled for a trial where a judge or jury will hear the evidence and consider legal arguments to reach a verdict. After a trial, your lawyer should help with the final paperwork and distribution of funds.
7. Provide some emotional closure and healing for you and your family
Experiencing the tragic loss of a family member can take an emotional toll on loved ones that no amount of money can resolve. However, on top of the sorrow and grief, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a funeral or final medical expenses when someone else is at fault.
When you work with a dedicated wrongful death attorney, you can rest easier knowing they are fighting for you, even when you may not have the strength to fight for yourself.
Nothing can bring back your loved one, but a successful wrongful death claim can help you resolve financial matters and bring some closure during this difficult time in your life.
To Learn More About How an Attorney Can Help After the Loss of Your Loved One, Contact Berry Law
The team at Berry Law understands that losing a loved one can be difficult to face. When someone else causes a situation that leads to an unexpected death, we help family members take legal action to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.
Contact the compassionate wrongful death legal team at Berry Law to learn more about the legal process and how they can assist during this difficult time. Call (402) 466-8444 or complete our online contact form for a free consultation today.