The sudden death of a loved one can cause great distress in a family, especially when the loss was due to someone else’s actions, whether an intentional act or simple negligence. When a wrongful death occurs, not only may family members find themselves in a devastating emotional state, but they may also be overwhelmed by mounting medical bills and other expenses that have resulted.
The law in Arkansas allows for the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or surviving family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit to receive compensation for the loss and related costs. Such compensation could help ease the family’s financial stress.
However, a family member might unknowingly make mistakes during the process, which could jeopardize the success of a wrongful death suit. What are some common wrongful death lawsuit pitfalls that occur in Arkansas, and how can family members avoid them?
Most Common Mistakes in Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Although a wrongful death lawsuit can provide family members with a measure of justice and compensation for the loss of their loved one, the process can be complicated. This means there is a higher risk of a family member making even a seemingly small mistake, which could drastically affect the outcome of the entire case.
Therefore, it is good for family members to be aware of potential pitfalls in a wrongful death case and how to avoid them. While not exhaustive, the following list highlights some of the most common mistakes made regarding wrongful death lawsuits in Arkansas.
Taking too long to file a wrongful death case
Each state has a time period during which lawsuits need to be filed. This time period is known legally as the “statute of limitations.”
Arkansas law sets the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit at just 3 years from the date the death occurred (2 years for medical malpractice). In the aftermath of receiving the news of the untimely death of a loved one, it takes time for a family to recover emotionally.
Being in such a vulnerable state, the family might not think of quickly filing a wrongful death suit. Due to this, they may miss the window of the statute of limitations for a wrongful death. If this happens, the family may be unable to seek any compensation for losses suffered.
Not hiring a personal injury lawyer
Trying to pursue a wrongful death suit without having the experience of a wrongful death attorney could be a big mistake. Typically, wrongful death cases can be very complex and confusing.
In addition to deadlines to be met for filing certain legal documents, extensive evidence needs to be gathered in order to establish liability for one or more parties. An experienced personal injury lawyer would be familiar with navigating the entire legal process of a wrongful death claim.
Your lawyer will also know your legal options, how to calculate all present and future losses, and how to maximize the amount of settlement for the family. He or she would know whether the case can be settled or if it would need to go to trial to obtain a fair amount of compensation.
Fighting with family members
Since the family’s emotions will be high after hearing about the untimely loss of their loved one, arguing and disagreements may result.
If this occurs, mistakes can happen, and the entire process of pursuing a wrongful death claim could become extremely difficult. Such things as missed deadlines and failing to provide vital evidence could compromise the entire wrongful death case.
To avoid mistakes in the wrongful death claims process, family members would need to work together, even though it might be difficult to do so.
This is another way in which hiring a wrongful death attorney can prove beneficial. By outlining the course of action, your lawyer would help everyone in the family to be on the same page.
Communicating with insurance companies
In the aftermath of the accident, insurance adjusters from any potentially liable parties may call you and offer an amount for settlement. They do this to try to quickly settle the claim on their client’s behalf for as low a price as possible.
Insurance companies, in the market to make money, are not prioritizing the amount of money the family has lost due to the wrongful death of their loved one.
Even when just speaking with insurance companies, you must be careful what you say. Insurance adjusters are skillful at twisting and misrepresenting your words in order to lessen the amount of your claim. It is always best to let your lawyer handle any negotiations and communications with insurance companies.
Accepting a settlement offer too soon
Of course, there is no monetary amount that would adequately compensate for the death of a loved one. Still, grieving families have a right to pursue all the compensation that they are legally entitled to receive.
In Arkansas, compensation for a wrongful death includes:
- Burial expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses (if the deceased succumbed to severe injuries)
- Lost wages (present and future)
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
It is highly unlikely that an insurance company would quickly offer a fair amount of compensation for the wrongful death.
Accepting a settlement agreement too soon from an insurance company would ruin any changes for possible additional future compensation. Having calculated all present and future losses, your lawyer would know what amount could be considered fair for settling the wrongful death claim.
Failing to obtain enough evidence
In order to build a strong wrongful death lawsuit, evidence would need to be presented to establish the guilty person’s negligence. Such evidence may include accident reports, medical records, eyewitness statements, and possibly photographs of the accident.
The more evidence that is acquired, the stronger the chances of being successful with a wrongful death claim.
Failing to pursue all liable parties
In some wrongful death cases, although the primary responsible party may be obvious, there may be other potentially liable parties. For example, in cases of car accidents or motorcycle accidents, perhaps a faulty car part caused the driver to lose control, which resulted in wrongful death; the manufacturer of that car part could also be held liable.
If a thorough investigation has not occurred, and the family chooses to settle the wrongful death claim, they could miss out on a substantial amount of compensation. Experienced wrongful death attorneys would know which professionals to contact to gather crucial facts regarding the accident.
Further, your lawyer would know how to analyze the evidence obtained and pursue all potentially liable parties who should provide compensation to the family.
Communicating publicly about the accident
In many cases, a wrongful death reaches the eyes and ears of the media. If family members are approached by reporters, they should refrain from saying anything about the case.
Any statements, even seemingly innocent expressions that are made by the family, could potentially jeopardize the credibility of the wrongful death claim.
Nowadays, there is a tendency to post everything that occurs in life on social media. However, the family should avoid posting anything related to the accident on social media until the wrongful death case gets settled.
Opposing parties will likely search these platforms in an effort to find statements or photographs that they could use to try to weaken the family’s claim.
Avoid Potential Mistakes by Hiring the Wrongful Death Attorneys of Minton Law
The fact that you and your family may be in a highly emotional state after receiving the news of the loss increases the risk of potential errors in the wrongful death process. There is no doubt about it – hiring a wrongful death lawyer is the best way to avoid potential mistakes with your wrongful death claim.
You can attain a measure of justice for your deceased loved one and secure your future with the help of experienced wrongful death attorneys. A wrongful death lawyer would know how to go about gathering evidence to build a strong case.
Further, your lawyer would be familiar with any tactics used by insurance adjusters to minimize your claim and able to effectively refute these tactics. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will also know how to calculate the value of your wrongful death claim and aggressively pursue all responsible parties for a fair settlement.
The wrongful death lawyers that the family chooses will have a direct impact on the results of the claim, so let the wrongful death attorneys of the Minton Law Firm put their years of extensive experience with personal injury lawsuits to work for your family. When you retain our services, you can be sure you don’t owe us a dime out of pocket.
Contact Minton Law’s wrongful death lawyers – serving the areas of Little Rock, Benton, and Conway in Arkansas – today. Call us at 855-Xadjuster or fill out our online contact form for a free legal consultation regarding your claim.