Imagine this scenario: Your loved one is involved in a severe car accident caused by another driver.
Sadly, they die as a result of injuries sustained. In addition to the grief and emotional pain their death causes, you are also left with the financial burden of funeral expenses and other bills. You may even lose income if your loved one was the primary breadwinner in the family.
So, what action can you take to receive compensation for your losses? This is where a wrongful death lawyer can help you.
Keep in mind that every state has different laws regarding wrongful death, so it’s crucial to hire an attorney who is familiar with the regulations in your particular state.
This article discusses everything you need to know about the work of a wrongful death attorney and how they can help you after the loss of a loved one.
What is a wrongful death claim?
Before we discuss the role of a wrongful death lawyer, it’s essential to understand what a wrongful death claim is.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action that can be brought against an individual, business, or other entity when their negligent or intentional actions result in the death of another person.
The primary purpose of these claims is to seek financial compensation for the damages incurred as a result of the death, such as funeral expenses, loss of income, pain, suffering, and more.
Sometimes, punitive damages will be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In most states, the following individuals can file a wrongful death claim:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased person
- The surviving children of the deceased person
- The parents of the deceased person, in cases where the victim was unmarried and had no children.
It’s important to note that, in some states, only certain family members are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. For example, in some states, only the spouse or parents of the victim may be able to take legal action.
It’s also worth mentioning that, in some cases, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate may be able to file a claim on behalf of the surviving family members.
How can a wrongful death Lawyer help you?
The truth is that filing a wrongful death claim can be a complicated and daunting task. Not only do you have to deal with the grief of losing a loved one, but you also have to navigate the complex legal system.
This is where a wrongful death lawyer comes in. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process of filing a claim and help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Here are some of the ways a wrongful death lawyer can help you:
1. Investigate the circumstances surrounding the death
To build a strong case, your attorney will need to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death. This may involve collecting evidence, speaking to witnesses, and working with experts.
Your lawyer must also establish who was at fault for the death. In some cases, this may be clear-cut, such as in a car accident where the other driver was speeding or driving under the influence of alcohol.
In other cases, however, determining who is responsible may be more difficult. For example, if your loved one died as a result of medical malpractice, it may be necessary to review the medical records to determine if the death was caused by negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital.
2. Calculate the damages
Once the fault has been established, your lawyer will then work to calculate the damages that have been incurred. This will include economic damages, such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of income, and loss of benefits, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship.
In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages to punish the responsible party and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
3. Negotiate with the insurance company
If the person or entity responsible for the death has insurance, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company to try to reach a settlement agreement.
It’s essential to keep in mind that insurance companies are businesses, and their primary goal is to make money. As such, they will often try to lowball the settlement offer in an attempt to save themselves money.
This is why it’s so important to have an experienced attorney on your side. A good lawyer will know how to negotiate with the insurance company and fight for the full compensation you deserve.
4. Take your case to trial
Your lawyer will take your case to trial if a settlement agreement cannot be reached. This can be lengthy and expensive, but it may be necessary to get the compensation you deserve.
A good wrongful death lawyer will be able to guide you through every step of the process and help you seek the compensation you need to move on with your life.
How much does a wrongful death Lawyer cost?
One of the main concerns people have about hiring a lawyer is the cost. Many people assume that lawyers are expensive and that they will end up spending more money than they could ever hope to recover in a settlement.
This, however, is not always the case. In fact, most wrongful death lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. It means that you will only have to pay your lawyer if they can successfully recover compensation for you.
The contingency fee percentage will vary from lawyer to lawyer, but it is typically between 33% and 40% of the total settlement. This means that if your lawyer recovers a $100,000 compensation, you will likely owe them between $33,000 and $40,000.
While this may seem like a lot of money, it’s essential to keep in mind that you would not have been able to recover this money on your own.
If you had tried to negotiate with the insurance company on your own, they would likely have lowballed you, and you would have ended up with much less than you deserve.
In addition, the contingency fee is typically paid out of the settlement itself, so you will not have to come out of pocket for anything.
What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death claim?
As we mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek financial compensation for the damages that have been incurred as a result of the death.
Some of the most common damages that are recovered in a wrongful death claim include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income
- Loss of benefits, such as medical insurance and retirement benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Loss of companionship or consortium. This may be recoverable by the surviving spouse or by the children of the deceased.
Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
It’s essential to remember that these are just some of the most common types of damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death claim. You may also be able to recover other types of damages depending on the specifics of your case.
A wrongful death lawyer can help you through the difficult process of filing a claim and recovering damages. Please contact a lawyer to discuss your case if you have lost a loved one.