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A wrongful death claim is filed against a person responsible for causing a death. Wrongful death laws vary by state, so it’s important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.
A wrongful death claim is a personal injury lawsuit that can be pursued when someone is killed due to another party’s negligence or intentional act. In simpler terms, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate if your loved one died due to the deliberate behavior of someone else. Victims of the wrongful death claim may receive compensation for both the financial and emotional losses they have suffered.
If you have lost a loved one, contact The Mike Hostilo Law Firm. Our wrongful death lawyers are experienced in handling cases like yours, offering trusted legal advice throughout the process. Plus, we’re available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have.
Keep in mind that you don’t pay unless we win your case. Our wrongful death lawyers understand that you are grieving a tremendous loss, and we will do all we can to ease your burden. That’s why you don’t owe us a dime until we have recovered the compensation you deserve.
When someone is injured through the negligent or intentional acts of another, that person has the right to seek monetary compensation or damages. But what happens when the incident results in the unfortunate loss of a life? How can you seek justice for the death of your loved one?
Long ago, the liable party faced jail time but didn’t have to worry about paying financial damages. While the deceased individual couldn’t claim damages, his or her family was left suffering a financial burden as well as an emotional loss. Skilled wrongful death lawyers know too well that there are some immoral people who use this to their advantage. They soon realized that, while murder would result in a longer incarceration, it would save criminals from having to pay out on a personal injury claim.
Fortunately, this situation prompted lawmakers to address the flaw in our system. Today, our laws provide a way to recover damages by filing a wrongful death claim. With the legal representation of a trusted wrongful death lawyer, any damages awarded are distributed to beneficiaries per the decedent’s will.
In this way, the family receives compensation for their loss, designed to help them cope with the financial costs incurred by the wrongful death
While this sounds simple enough, a wrongful death claim can quickly become very complicated. Any experienced wrongful death lawyer will explain that only certain people can serve as a personal representative.
Families often face a second obstacle if the deceased party doesn’t have a will.
Thirdly, there are also specific factors that comprise a wrongful death claim. Failing to meet even one element can compromise your case. While you may never have to file a wrongful death claim, it’s important to understand how the process works and how these obstacles can be overcome. This overview can prepare you if you do lose a loved one through the fault of another.
And above all, you can always get trusted legal advice and legal representation from a skilled wrongful death lawyer. Plus, when working with The Mike Hostilo Law Firm, you don’t pay us unless we win your case. There’s no need to worry about how to afford a good wrongful death lawyer near you, because we are ready to help.
As previously mentioned, a personal representative is often designated in the deceased party’s will. While this person is chosen to represent the deceased, he or she also represents that person’s family members – because they will be the ones to receive the settlement or award.
Allowing the entire family to file the wrongful death lawsuit can complicate the situation. It is best to designate just one individual to work alongside a skilled wrongful death lawyer.
What happens if there is no will?
In this case, members of the family will petition the court to allow them to act as the personal representative in the wrongful death lawsuit. This option isn’t open to everyone in the family, and each state has its own specific laws to determine which people can serve as the representative.
Typically, the representative can be any of the following individuals:
Some states have added to this list, allowing other family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Grandparents, adult siblings, and some other family members may qualify. As relationships change, the laws do as well, so it’s essential to consult a wrongful death attorney about the laws in your area to determine if an unmarried partner can also qualify. Some states allow this, while others do not. The parents of a deceased fetus may also be permitted to file a wrongful death claim.
In most states, the general rule of thumb is that anyone who has been caused a financial burden by the loss may file a wrongful death claim. One example might be an elderly aunt needing adult care that the now-deceased individual paid to provide.
There are four fundamental elements that your wrongful death attorney must be able to establish for your case to move forward.
Typically, the wrongful death attorney will go over the facts of the accident lawsuit with you at your initial consultation to determine if these elements can be met. If even one condition can’t be proven in court, you may have to drop your claim. Check out this helpful checklist for a valid wrongful death claim:
1. Breach of Duty
Your wrongful death lawyer must be able to prove that the defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent and that he breached that duty. This means that the defendant was responsible for taking reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the deceased individual – and that he failed to meet that obligation. In a car accident, for instance, running a stop sign would be considered a breach of duty because that driver was reasonably expected to obey that traffic law.
An individual can be negligent either through inaction or through deliberate or reckless acts. When someone fails to mark off or repair an unsafe area, this is negligence through inaction. Alternatively, deliberately pushing someone and causing them to fall over the side of a cliff, is negligence by a deliberate act. Even if he never intended for the decedent to fall over the edge of the cliff, his negligence was the root cause of the death.
Your wrongful death attorney must also show that the defendant’s actions caused the death. While this may sound redundant, negligence doesn’t always cause death. For instance, one driver crashed into another driver as a result of running a red light. The second driver is injured but alive. If he later dies of a heart attack, which was not caused by the injuries, the first driver did not cause the death.
It must also be shown that financial damages were suffered as a result of death. If your lawyer can prove the first three elements, showing a financial loss often follows naturally. At the very least, there were the medical care costs of treating the individual before his death. Plus, the funeral and burial expenses of the deceased must be added. Your wrongful death attorney will try to show that you have suffered additional damages to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
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Many types of damages can be claimed when filing a wrongful death lawsuit, although not every type can be claimed in every case. Your wrongful death attorney will discuss the types of damages you can expect to receive after they examine the facts of your case. Here is a list of the damages most commonly claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit:
While it can be hard to assign a number to some of these damages, the court uses a system that attempts to estimate the value of these losses. It often takes into account the decedent’s age and physical condition at the time of the accident. The individual’s life expectancy will be considered as well. Other factors, such as the value of lost benefits, will also be considered.
Filing wrongful death lawsuits is also regulated by a time limit, known as a statute of limitations. Both traditional personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims must be filed within one to two years of the discovery of the harm. Each state has a different statute of limitations, with the longest being two years. It’s important to note that the time limit doesn’t begin counting down until the harm has been discovered. If you don’t become aware of the individual’s death until one year after his passing, you have two years from discovering the loss, not from the actual date of the death.
Some government agencies and businesses are immune to wrongful death claims. For instance, railroads are exempt from wrongful death claims in collisions and some product liability issues may not be claimed either. For example, in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. v. Bartlett, it was determined that a generic drug brand couldn’t be held liable for wrongful death if the brand name of the same drug was deemed safe for use by the FDA. While these situations are rare, they do exist. Consulting your wrongful death attorney will help you determine if the responsible party in your wrongful death claim is exempt.
While there is a great deal of information to consider in filing a wrongful death suit, consulting a lawyer can help you make sense of everything. Since wrongful death lawyers offer free initial consultations, you can learn more about your case without any financial risk. So if you believe you have a wrongful death claim, contact The Mike Hostilo Law Firm today.
YOU DON’T PAY US UNLESS WE WIN
The Mike Hostilo Law Firm can manage your wrongful death claim, as well as a wide variety of other cases – including car crashes (internal link), trucking accidents (internal link), worker’s comp (internal link) and other accident lawsuits (practice areas page internal link). We are here to help!
Our personal injury law firm proudly serves accident injury victims throughout Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
So, if you’re searching for a trusted personal injury law firm near me to fight for your legal claim, contact The Mike Hostilo Law Firm today!
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