Losing a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy, made even more devastating when it might have been prevented. When a loved one’s death occurs due to the careless actions or senseless negligence of another party, holding the responsible party accountable can provide needed closure.
Family members can seek fair and adequate compensation by filing a wrongful death claim, but how can negligence be proven in wrongful death lawsuits? In Arkansas, there are several options available for those who find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
Who Has the Right to Seek Justice in a Wrongful Death Claim?
The unexpected death of a loved one is an incredibly painful experience. It is made even more agonizing when that person’s death was the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. When faced with such a devastating loss, seeking justice can provide some comfort amidst the grief.
If you and your family have lost a loved one in an accidental death, you may decide to file a wrongful death claim.
A wrongful death claim is a legal action taken when an individual’s death was caused by the negligent or intentional acts of another party. This allows the deceased’s estate and surviving family members to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.
Only certain family members are eligible to file and benefit from a wrongful death claim in Arkansas. The person chosen to represent the decedent’s estate must initiate the wrongful death claim. After deciding who should be the personal representative of your loved one, you should not delay in taking legal action.
The person chosen to represent the deceased is normally a surviving family member, such as:
- A surviving spouse
- Persons standing in loco parentis to the deceased
How Can You Prove Negligence in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Proving negligence in a wrongful death claim can be a challenging endeavor. In Arkansas, the burden of proof falls on the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant’s actions or omissions directly caused the fatal accident or incident.
What legal strategies can you use to get the compensation and closure your family needs? The following are several steps you can follow to prove wrongful death liability.
Establish who owed your loved one a duty of care
In most wrongful death claims, negligence is a key element that must be proven. What exactly does negligence mean in this context? It means that the responsible party failed to meet a duty of care towards the victim.
The concept of “duty of care” refers to the legal obligation one party has to act with a reasonable level of care to prevent harm to others.
In general, wrongful deaths are caused by:
- Careless actions
- Reckless behavior
- Disregard for human life
- Any wrongful act resulting in one or more accidental deaths
A duty of care can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding an incident. A healthcare professional has a duty of care towards his or her patients, while drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely. A breach could also involve an employer’s failure to provide proper safety measures at the workplace.
Calculate any damages in your wrongful death suit
No amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. Still, families can seek damages for their losses if they feel they have a valid wrongful death claim. They may be eligible for a significant financial settlement, which can help ease the burden caused by the victim’s untimely passing.
Wrongful death settlements often include both compensation for these economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical bills incurred before death
- Burial expenses and funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support and lost wages from the deceased person
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death
- Other relevant losses resulting in financial hardship for the deceased’s family
Determining an appropriate settlement for damages requires a careful review of any evidence presented, such as:
- The deceased person’s age at the time of his or her death
- The victim’s earning potential had he or she continued living
- His or her life expectancy
- Other relevant factors
Gather convincing evidence for your wrongful death lawsuit
To establish negligence in wrongful death lawsuits, what evidence should families gather? Consider the case of medical malpractice. If a healthcare professional fails to provide the necessary standard of care, resulting in the death of a patient, it may be considered medical malpractice.
In that case, you should gather any medical records related to the death of your family member. Don’t forget to include information on his or her treatment plan. These records provide important insights into any negligent actions or omissions by healthcare professionals.
Other potential evidence in wrongful death lawsuits includes:
- Accident reports
- Expert witnesses
- Eyewitness testimony
- Employment records
Additionally, collecting accident reports, photographs from the scene, and any available surveillance footage can also be invaluable in establishing fault. These pieces of evidence can help recreate the events leading up to the fatal incident.
Prove the breach of duty caused your family member’s death
One hurdle plaintiffs may encounter is defending against claims of contributory negligence. The defense team might argue that the deceased person’s own actions contributed to the fatal injuries. Adjusters may callously claim that the deceased person is solely responsible for causing their own death.
In Arkansas, contributory negligence can be a significant factor in determining liability and the amount of damages awarded. To successfully defend against claims of contributory negligence, you must gather strong evidence that disproves any allegations made against the deceased individual.
A wrongful death lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident leading to the victim’s death.
Combat the insurance companies’ attempts to devalue your claim
Dealing with difficult insurance companies can also be a challenge since insurance companies often employ tactics to minimize their clients’ responsibility or shift blame onto the deceased victims. Insurance companies often have entire teams of lawyers who will try everything possible to dispute liability or downplay the extent of damages suffered by surviving family members.
Insurance adjusters may even attempt to argue that pre-existing conditions rather than the accident caused a person’s death. Their goal is benefiting the insurance company they work for, not pursuing justice after your loved one’s death.
Your lawyer can employ various strategies to identify and countertactics used by insurance companies in an effort to devalue or deny wrongful death claims. Experienced lawyers are skilled negotiators. They can anticipate potential challenges, respond to legal arguments from the insurance company, and develop a strategic approach to achieve the best possible outcome.
If negotiations fail to yield a fair settlement, your lawyer can pursue litigation and take your case to court.
Pursue a lawsuit with the help of an Arkansas wrongful death attorney
When trying to prove negligence in an Arkansas wrongful death case, presenting your claim effectively in court is essential. This is where all the evidence and arguments will come together, and the fate of your claim will be decided.
To present your case successfully, you need a skilled attorney who can gather all the necessary evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong legal strategy.
He or she will work with you to develop persuasive arguments that demonstrate the defendant’s negligence and establish their liability for the wrongful death. In court, your attorney will carefully organize and present your case.
Enlist the expertise of expert witnesses
In many Arkansas wrongful death cases, expert witnesses play a vital role in proving negligence. Your lawyer may call expert witnesses who can provide professional opinions on matters related to negligence or causation. These individuals possess a high degree of knowledge and experience in a particular field relevant to the case.
Expert witnesses can provide valuable insight and support when establishing fault and negligence. For example, suppose the wrongful death occurred due to medical malpractice. A medical expert witness could review the deceased’s medical records and testify as to whether the healthcare provider’s actions fell below the accepted standard of care.
Similarly, in cases involving product liability or defective products, an engineering or manufacturing expert may be called upon to examine the faulty item and determine whether it was designed or manufactured improperly.
Of course, expert witnesses must meet certain qualifications set by Arkansas law. They must have sufficient education, training, experience, or knowledge related to their area of expertise. This testimony can carry significant weight with judges or juries who otherwise may not have access to such knowledge.
How Do You Know If You Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
Are you and your family seeking justice on behalf of a deceased loved one? If so, you may be wondering whether the incident that caused your relative’s death can be pursued by a wrongful death claim.
Sadly, these are just some of the many instances where negligence can result in a loved one’s death:
- A car accident or truck accident: Negligent driving behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, or failing to follow traffic laws can cause fatal collisions on the roads.
- Workplace accidents: Employers have a duty to maintain safe working conditions for their employees. Failure to do so can result in fatal workplace accidents caused by hazardous environments or lack of proper training.
- Defective products: Manufacturers or sellers who produce or distribute defective products that cause fatalities may be held liable for wrongful death. Apart from defective products, other consumer goods with inadequate warnings or safety features may cause fatal accidents, leading to liability for manufacturers or distributors.
- Medical device failures: Defective or malfunctioning medical devices, implants, or equipment can lead to severe injuries and wrongful death. In this instance, the manufacturers may be held accountable.
- Slip-and-fall accidents: Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises for visitors. Inadequate security, poorly maintained premises, or lack of warning about potential hazards can contribute to fatal accidents on commercial or private properties. When this happens, the families of deceased ones can pursue wrongful death lawsuits.
- Environmental hazards: Exposure to toxic substances, pollution, or other environmental hazards that lead to fatal illnesses or injuries may give rise to wrongful death claims.
Watch the Arkansas Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
You must adhere to the local statute of limitations if you wish to file a claim. If the timeline expires before you file a claim, you could lose the right to seek justice for your loved one’s death.
In Arkansas, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death claim is generally 3 years from the date of the deceased person’s passing. However, some exceptions and factors can affect this timeline.
Even though 3 years may seem like plenty of time, gathering evidence and building a strong case takes time and effort. That’s why you should not delay seeking out a lawyer regarding your wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced wrongful death attorney can determine exactly how long you have based on the specific circumstances surrounding your case.
Consult an attorney as soon as possible after your loved one’s passing to ensure that all the necessary steps are properly taken in your wrongful death suit. By understanding the elements of proving negligence, the burden of proof requirements, and the importance of expert witnesses, you can build a strong case to seek justice for your loved one’s untimely passing.
Our Arkansas Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Fight for Justice on Your Behalf
At Minton Law Firm, our team of wrongful death attorneys is dedicated to helping families seek justice and obtain fair compensation for their losses. What sets us apart from other law firms is our genuine care and compassion for our clients. We understand the pain and grief associated with losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence.
Our goal is not only to seek financial support for our clients but also to provide them with closure and peace of mind during this painful time. That is why we are committed to providing compassionate support while aggressively representing our clients in their wrongful death cases.
From gathering evidence to presenting your case in court, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. Our Arkansas wrongful death attorneys will help you and your family claim the wrongful death settlement you need to cope with the loss of your loved one. We deeply believe that everyone deserves justice – especially when it comes to senseless acts of negligence resulting in the premature death of a loved one.
Remember: You don’t have to face this tragedy or the legal process alone. If you are seeking an experienced wrongful death attorney who truly cares about your wrongful death claim, call 855-Xadjuster or complete the contact form for a free consultation.