Securing Your Family’s Future After a Wrongful Death

Securing Your Family's Future After a Wrongful Death

Few things in life are as difficult as losing someone dear to you in death. Sadly, it can be even more heartbreaking when your loved one’s death occurs due to another person’s negligent behavior or intentional act.

Further, the sudden loss of a loved one can burden already grieving families with significant financial hardships. In such instances, certain surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim against those responsible for the fatal accident. 

Understandably, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of taking legal action while still reeling from your family member’s unexpected passing. However, a wrongful death settlement can ease the financial difficulties associated with your family’s loss and is often an essential step in moving forward from the traumatic incident.

Below, we will discuss practical measures you can take to secure your family’s financial future after a wrongful death. 

Consult a Wrongful Death Lawyer as Soon as Possible

An empathetic and experienced wrongful death attorney is the advocate your family needs after losing a loved one because of another party’s negligence. He or she will guide you through the legal process for financial compensation.

Having adept legal representation will ease your stress and give you peace of mind as you pursue a wrongful death claim. Hiring a lawyer early on will help hold all responsible parties accountable, preserve critical evidence, and ensure that all legal actions are brought within the allowed time frame.

Furthermore, the right lawyer will understand the emotional and financial challenges you are facing and will endeavor to shield you from additional sources of emotional pain as the claim progresses. With a compassionate attorney on your side, you will have more confidence in pursuing justice in your case. 

Gather Evidence and Documentation

Proving how and why your family member died is a principal part of the wrongful death claim. The deceased person’s death certificate, which states the official cause of death, is a key piece of evidence.

If an autopsy was performed, this report can provide convincing evidence of the cause of death. What’s more, if the police or emergency responders were called to the scene of the incident, their official accident reports could establish what happened. 

Additional compelling evidence in a wrongful death claim may include:

  • The deceased’s medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Photos or video of the fatal injuries
  • Traffic camera or security camera footage from the scene of the accident
  • Documentation of the vehicle or property damage
  • Witness testimony

Proving financial damages is also a significant part of a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Important documents to gather include:

  • Employment records
  • Financial records
  • Tax returns
  • Insurance policies

Such documents and reports can establish an indisputable link between someone’s negligent actions and your loved one’s untimely death, as well as resulting financial losses. Therefore, with the help of your wrongful death lawyer, work to gather all the records that you can, making sure to hold on to all documentation and evidence for the full duration of your wrongful death case.

Determine Who Caused the Wrongful Death

Successful wrongful death cases are dependent on identifying and holding accountable the responsible party.

To file a justifiable wrongful death claim, you must prove that:

  • A person died
  • A person or entity was negligent, reckless, or caused intentional harm
  • That party’s negligent or intentional actions were the direct cause of your loved one’s death
  • Surviving family members suffered financial damages related to the death

By establishing such facts, the deceased’s personal representative or immediate family can open a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. 

It may seem like a straightforward case to you, but proving negligence and liability in a wrongful death case can be challenging. Reviewing the evidence and pinning responsibility for what happened is emotionally taxing. A skilled attorney will be able to do much of this on your behalf – sparing you from repeatedly reliving the events related to your relative’s death.

Understand and Identify the Relevant Damages in Your Wrongful Death Claim

When filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, it is essential that you pursue sufficient compensation to meet both your family’s current and long-term financial needs. It is wise to carefully consider the full financial impact your loved one’s death will have. Your damages may include much beyond the immediate expenses and costs related to the fatal accident.

Damages that may be available in wrongful death claims include:

  • Medical expenses: You may be able to recover compensation for any medical expenses or bills related to your loved one’s death. This may include emergency room or hospital fees, among other things.
  • Funeral expenses: Funeral expenses and burial costs can be a significant financial burden on grieving families. Just compensation can help alleviate these tolls.
  • Lost future earnings: Certain financial dependents who relied on the monetary support of the deceased may be able to recover the lost future income he or she provided.
  • Lost benefits: At times, the family may lose out on benefits like health insurance, pensions, or other work-related bonuses. Such losses can also be compensated.
  • Loss of the value of household services: You may now need to hire someone to take care of the household tasks that your loved one formerly performed. You can request compensation for these costs.
  • Pain and suffering: The emotional suffering caused by an unexpected death can be intensely painful. You can seek financial compensation for the grief and mental anguish brought on by the wrongful death.
  • Loss of companionship: While it can be difficult to calculate a monetary value for such intangible losses, compensation can be sought for the emotional support and companionship that is now lost.
  • Legal fees and costs: In a wrongful death lawsuit, families can hire an attorney to help them. The cost of these legal services can be sought as damages.
  • Punitive damages: In wrongful death claims involving extreme negligence or intentional harm, the court may impose punitive damages on the liable party as an additional punishment.

Each wrongful death claim is unique, and families are impacted in different ways. The general goal in each case, though, is to reach a settlement that will adequately provide for your family’s future while also respecting the legacy of the deceased.

An experienced attorney can assist you in the difficult task of assigning a monetary value to your current and future damages. Carefully calculating your losses will ensure that you seek enough financial compensation to stabilize your family during this difficult time – a crucial step in the healing process.

Enter Wrongful Death Settlement Negotiations

In many cases, a wrongful death settlement agreement can be reached with the responsible party or their insurance company during the pre-litigation phase, before a lawsuit is filed. Families often prefer to undertake settlement negotiations before going all the way to court.

To begin negotiations, your wrongful death attorney will write a demand letter to the defendant and his or her insurance company. The letter may set forth the circumstances of the death, name the negligent party believed to have caused it, and explain how the evidence supports this conclusion.

It is in your best interest to remain cautious during insurance settlement negotiations. Insurance adjusters can be frustrating to work with and will often attempt to settle a wrongful death claim for less than what the family rightfully deserves. 

In such high-stakes and emotionally charged negotiations, it is advantageous to let your wrongful death attorney do the talking for you. He or she will ensure your legal rights are protected so that you receive a compensation amount reflecting the true extent of your losses.

If a reasonable settlement offer is not received, you can then opt to take further legal action by pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.

File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

At times, an amicable wrongful death settlement agreement cannot be reached. In such cases, your lawyer will file a complaint in civil court for wrongful death. The complaint will outline the details of the wrongful death suit.

The complaint will include the date and time of death, what caused it, and the amount of compensation sought. It will also review the established evidence and laws that apply to the case.

Enter the Litigation and Discovery Phase

The pre-trial phase of a wrongful death lawsuit includes the fact-finding or discovery period. This allows time for each side to collect as much information about the case as possible.

In order to build the wrongful death case, your lawyer may take such steps as:

  • Requesting important documents: It is beneficial to see a copy of the defendant’s insurance policy and like documents. Such records will show how much potential compensation is available in the case.
  • Questioning the defendant in writing: Questions may be submitted that must be answered in writing while under oath.
  • Conducting a deposition: During a deposition, your lawyer may further question the defendant and others about the wrongful death. Depositions are given under oath, recorded, and possibly used as evidence at trial.
  • Interviewing expert witnesses: Depending on the circumstances of the case, the testimony of various industry professionals can be invaluable in successfully resolving your lawsuit. For instance, in a claim involving medical malpractice, a medical expert with respected credentials may be called in. Or an accident reconstruction specialist may be asked to help the jury visualize what happened based on the established evidence of a car accident.

The intention of the discovery phase is to firmly establish the facts of the case so that there are no surprises in the courtroom. 

Attend Court Mediation 

In an effort to resolve the wrongful death case without going to trial, the judge might require a mediation conference. The purpose of mediation is to open a conversation between the parties in order to settle the wrongful death claim.

Your wrongful death lawyer will be able to thoroughly prepare you for mediation and help you evaluate any settlement offers.

Take the Wrongful Death Case to Trial

If mediation and settlement negotiations fail, the trial stage of the wrongful death lawsuit will begin.

At trial, each side has the opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and provide arguments. Moreover, each party may cross-examine the other side’s witnesses.

At the end of the trial, the jury will deliberate and give their verdict. If you are disappointed with the outcome, you may be able to appeal the decision to a higher court.

Secure Your Family’s Financial Future With the Help of Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers

The unanticipated and abrupt loss of a loved one in death can leave you emotionally shattered. You may feel that, in a single moment, everything you envisioned for your future is changed. Meanwhile, the financial losses associated with your family member’s death may be imposing an almost impossible weight on those left behind. 

Taking steps to file a wrongful death claim can help you get back on your feet after such a tragedy. That said, it is inadvisable for grieving families to attempt to navigate the legal process on their own. You need the support and guidance of a well-practiced wrongful death attorney. 

The compassionate wrongful death lawyers at the Minton Law Firm are here for you and your family in this time of need. Justin Minton and his colleagues have considerable experience in successfully settling wrongful death claims.

In wrongful death cases, it is our goal to ease the pain and suffering of devastated families by pursuing justice and fair compensation. Call us today at 855-Xadjuster or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation. A member of our legal team is standing by to hear your story.

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