Proving liability in civil lawsuits can be complex. However, it is even more challenging to prove wrongful death cases since the victim cannot testify like in personal injury lawsuits. Only the personal representative of the deceased or immediate family members can recover compensation from the person who caused the wrongful death.
Wrongful death laws vary from state to state, and lawmakers sometimes change or update these laws. Therefore, consulting an Arkansas wrongful death attorney is the best way to find accurate information about your rights, because we help surviving family members sue for wrongful death compensation.
Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones in death. When our lawyers prove liability in court, we ensure that the at-fault party is called to account for his or her wrongful act. A wrongful death settlement can relieve financial burdens like medical bills and burial costs.
If your loved one died in a preventable accident, this step-by-step wrongful death guide can help family members pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
Defining Wrongful Death
A wrongful death happens when a victim’s life is lost due to negligent or criminal actions, such as the ones listed below:
- Bicycle or pedestrian accidents
- Boating accidents
- Dog bites
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle collisions
- Surgical errors
- Slip and fall cases
- Workplace accidents
Criminal prosecution and wrongful death lawsuits operate independently. So a person found not guilty of criminal charges can still be subject to a civil lawsuit.
In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff claims the defendant breached a legal duty, resulting in the wrongful death action. If the defendant is found liable, the plaintiff can receive compensation from that liable party.
As you can see, the details of a case can complicate matters. So speak to an experienced wrongful death attorney who can tell you more about Arkansas laws and how these apply to your specific wrongful death lawsuit.
Understanding Arkansas Wrongful Death Laws
The defendant owed the victim a duty of care. An experienced attorney investigating a wrongful death case must look for evidence of this fact.
Duty of care is the obligation of one person to another. For instance, drivers must follow traffic laws to avoid endangering others. Any behavior that places human life at risk can be considered a breach of duty.
Causation is established when someone else’s intentional act or careless behavior causes a fatal accident. The at-fault party is liable for accident losses called wrongful death damages.
You can find wrongful death statutes in the Arkansas Code, section 16-63-102.
To prove a wrongful death case, you must establish liability according to these requirements:
- A wrongful act, neglect, or default caused a person’s death or the death of an unborn child
- The wrongful death actions would have entitled the victim to recover damages if the decedent’s death had not ensued
- The person, company, or corporation would have been liable for the accident losses
A successful Arkansas wrongful death claim must contain these 3 elements of evidence.
Supporting Your Arkansas Wrongful Death Claim
Evidence is a critical factor in wrongful death lawsuits. To prove a wrongful death claim, you must demonstrate that the other party intentionally or unintentionally harmed your loved one. Next, you must show that the defendant’s negligence caused his or her injuries.
Save anything that might shed light on your personal injury claim. For example, you can take pictures, keep items from the accident scene, and get the contact information of witnesses.
Items of evidence like those described below can help you strengthen your wrongful death claim:
- Tangible: Tangible evidence includes clothing, motor vehicle pieces, scratched motorcycle helmets, defective products, or objects from a criminal case that a juror can touch or see during a civil case. This can help demonstrate the severity of a wrongful death caused by negligence or ill intent.
- Photographic: Photographic evidence includes labeled photos (date, time, place taken, and description) of injuries, scars, the car accident scene, or videos from dashcams, doorbells, and surveillance cameras.
- Documentary: Physician evaluations, medical and hospice bills, police reports, proof of income, journals, car accident damage estimates, property damage invoices, and other official documents related to the incident provide valuable documentation.
- Reconstructive: Accident reconstructions can reveal what caused fatal incidents and medical examiner’s reports investigating the cause of the deceased’s death.
- Testimonial: Expert opinions and witness accounts, including from your loved one, if he or she talked about their pain and suffering before passing away, can prove valuable in a wrongful death case.
- Communication: Evidence of communication includes texts, phone calls, and voicemail messages. These provide valuable insight into the victim’s death (e.g., texting and driving, admissions of guilt).
- End-of-life: End-of-life evidence may include funeral and burial expenses.
Time matters when gathering proof for a wrongful death suit. Surviving family members or a personal representative should begin preserving evidence immediately after the incident.
You also need to ensure that valuable documentation is preserved. One way to safeguard your evidence is by having your lawyer send a letter of spoliation. This notice obligates the evidence holder, including the at-fault party, to preserve relevant evidence.
Yet, collecting evidence is difficult if you don’t know where to look, especially for families devastated by a tragic loss.
Don’t worry if these steps seem overwhelming. An experienced wrongful death lawyer can handle all the essential details to build a strong case. He or she will know how to preserve and organize evidence, building a solid foundation for your wrongful death lawsuit.
Identifying the Liable Party
Once you have the foundation of your wrongful death case, the next step is arranging a subpoena. This legal order requires the other party to appear in court on a specific date.
Yet, how do you know who is truly responsible? A wrongful death lawsuit against the incorrect person wastes time and resources. An Arkansas wrongful death attorney can help you identify who is financially accountable for the deceased medical bills.
Your lawyer will investigate whether the fault lies with one or more parties like those mentioned below.
Building owners have a duty of care. They must maintain safe premises, conduct regular inspections, and fix hazards promptly. Landlords should also post warnings of potential dangers awaiting repairs or inherent to their property.
For example, a business owner could post an “Out of Order” sign on broken elevators. He or she should have a “Wet Floor” sign out during mopping. Any broken handrails or other potential slip and fall hazards should be addressed immediately.
If the deceased person died on someone else’s property or due to an injury sustained away from home, you could be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. The owner of the property or the one in charge of caring for it could be held liable for damages.
Who has the duty of care for a defective product in Arkansas? Many entities form the chain of manufacturing. The first in the line are designers responsible for making a functional, safe item.
Designers must consider how the consumers might use the product. Their design should meet the requirements of federal and state laws. Often, products must pass safety inspections or undergo testing before being released to the market.
The packaging should explain how to properly use the item. Warning labels should state any potential hazards or safety concerns. Errors in production or labeling can lead to dangerous accidents.
Was your loved one injured by an unsafe product? Justin Minton Law Firm can help you obtain financial compensation for your loved one by proving these points:
- The deceased person suffered injuries
- The product was defective or dangerous
- The product caused your injuries
- The deceased person used the product as intended
An experienced wrongful death attorney can also anticipate and prepare to refute the defense’s arguments, namely that the deceased:
- Modified or misused the product
- Used the product in a dangerous way despite understanding the risks
- Ignored instructions or warnings
At Minton Law, we take on wrongful death suits to defend the deceased’s rights and protect his or her surviving family members. We can help you pursue a wrongful death suit to recover the compensation your loved one deserved for his or her suffering.
You could be eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit if your loved one died in a transportation accident. The state law’s purpose in Arkansas is to protect everyone on the road.
Drivers, motorcyclists, bicycle riders, and pedestrians all have a duty of care. Violating traffic laws or recklessly driving can result in untold devastation.
Doctors, nurses, caregivers, and other medical professionals must be trained according to specific standards. The level of care they provide should meet industry expectations. They are also expected to diagnose conditions and communicate the risks of medical procedures.
Since medical errors can be fatal, healthcare professionals must be vigilant not to hurt their patients. One wrong decision can create an injury or worsen a pre-existing problem.
Common medical malpractice claims associated with wrongful death are:
- Delayed or wrong diagnoses
- Surgical errors
- Improper treatment recommendations
- Drug interactions
- Failure to inform patients of known risks
- Anesthesia errors
- Incorrect prescriptions
Proving a medical-related wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas is challenging. Lawyers must meticulously sort evidence, such as medical records and health care logs.
A successful wrongful death lawsuit based on medical malpractice must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- A professional relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient existed
- The professional failed the duty of care according to industry standards
- The injury that led to death was directly related to misconduct or a medical error
A wrongful death claim can also address intangible pain and suffering ensuing from the patient’s injuries. Wrongful death lawsuits based on medical malpractice are usually paid by the hospital or healthcare provider’s insurance company.
If a wrongful death occurred on the job, the surviving spouse and dependents could qualify for benefits from Arkansas workers’ compensation insurance. The Death and Permanent Total Disability Trust Fund pays weekly benefits to the dependents of deceased employees or the decedent’s estate.
In Arkansas, “mistakes and misunderstandings do happen” with workers’ compensation insurance. If an insurance company denies your claim to survivor’s benefits, a lawyer can help you appeal unfair decisions.
State law requires you to file a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of your loved one within 2 years from the decedent’s death or 1 year from the date of the last compensation payment.
A family member or representatives of the deceased person’s estate must file a wrongful death claim within a specific period.
Acting Before Time Runs Out
Suppose can prove wrongful death beyond a reasonable doubt. You could obtain compensation for damages in your wrongful death action, such as:
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of care, guidance, and household services
- Loss of companionship
- Your emotional pain, grief, and anguish
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Punitive damages for pain and suffering experienced by the deceased
- The deceased lost wages
Yet, taking too long to file a wrongful death suit can render you ineligible for compensation. Every date has a deadline for wrongful death claims called the statute of limitations.
In Arkansas, the wrongful death statute of limitations requires family members to begin a wrongful death case within 3 years of the person’s death.
Exceptions apply to healthcare-based wrongful death claims. If a medical provider makes an error, you have just 2 years to take legal action. If you wait until it is too late, it is unlikely that you will be able to file a successful wrongful death case.
Assistance for Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Proving liability in wrongful death cases is a complex process that requires a deep understanding of the law and meticulous attention to detail. Gathering and presenting evidence is crucial in establishing the defendant’s negligence.
Filing a wrongful death claim is easier with a team of experienced professionals on your side. Why struggle to sue for wrongful death without help? Our personalized approach shoulders the burden of turning your rightful wrongful death claim into a successful wrongful death settlement so you don’t have to carry it alone.
Learn about how our support and guidance can help you file a wrongful death claim for your loved one today in Little Rock (Pulaski County), Benton (Saline County), Conway (Faulkner County), and other regions of Arkansas.
Wrongful death settlements can set you free from financial strain. Call (501) 794-0001 to schedule a free wrongful death case review with an experienced wrongful death attorney today.