If a member of your family died because of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, you, another relative, or a representative of your loved one’s estate could file a wrongful death lawsuit in the same way you might a personal injury suit. You can seek the help of a wrongful death attorney to file a lawsuit to seek justice and compensation.
What an Attorney Can Do for Your Family
A wrongful death attorney can investigate to understand the circumstances that led to your family member’s death and identify the party or parties responsible. Once you have determined liability, they can help you pursue legal action.
An attorney can file a complaint alleging the facts and legal grounds of the case, then craft a summons informing the defendant of the suit and identifying the jurisdiction that will hear the case. Each state and county have their processes related to the service of process, referring to the manner of providing documents to defendants.
In many cases, a wrongful death lawyer can settle with the defendant’s counsel without taking a case to trial. That can spare both sides the time, cost, and stress of going to trial and leaving the matter in the hands of a judge and jury.
In some cases, the parties cannot agree on a level of compensation that both sides consider fair. It may be necessary to go to court, present evidence, and let a jury decide in those instances.
Eligibility for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Each state has different laws on who may sue for wrongful death. Some states allow only a personal representative to pursue a wrongful death claim. Others also allow spouses or children to sue. At the same time, a few even permit more distant relatives and other people not related to the deceased, but who had a relationship with that person, to sue. A wrongful death attorney can determine if you have standing to file in your state.
Types of Compensation Your Family Could Receive
A wrongful death attorney could recover a financial award to compensate your family for economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages could include:
- Medical expenses related to care your family member received prior to their death
- Bills for your loved one’s funeral and burial
- The loss of your relative’s expected income
- The loss of an inheritance that you and other family members could have received
- The loss of services that your loved one would have provided, such as help with household chores and childcare.
You and your relatives may also be entitled to noneconomic damages to compensate you for losing your relationship with your family member. Noneconomic damages compensate plaintiffs for the loss of companionship, affection, and emotional support they have suffered and will continue to experience because of the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one.
How to Calculate Damages
A wrongful death attorney can determine the value of a fair settlement. Some damages are simple to calculate. For example, an attorney can add up the bills associated with medical care and your loved one’s funeral and burial.
Other losses are more difficult to estimate. A wrongful death lawyer can consult independent experts to estimate how much money your family member would have likely earned if they had not suffered an untimely death.
Noneconomic damages are the most challenging to quantify, but those are often the areas where surviving relatives are hurt the most. It can be challenging to put a price tag on the worth of a relationship with a spouse, parent, or child, but that is the intent of noneconomic damages.
If your loved one died recently, you could not imagine all the ways that the death will affect you. You might suffer unimaginable grief and sorrow for years that affect your mental and physical health and finances. A wrongful death lawyer can use one of several formulas to put a financial value on your pain and suffering.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
The devastation of suddenly losing a loved one is gut-wrenching. You may be in a state of shock and struggling to get through each day. The thought of filing a lawsuit and possibly spending years fighting for justice and compensation might seem overwhelming. You may have decided to focus on getting by right now and think about taking legal action later.
Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to act. Each state has statutes of limitations that restrict the period that a plaintiff can take legal action in various matters. The statutes of limitations for wrongful death claims vary from state to state. In some specific circumstances, a state permits extensions to the statute of limitations. An attorney can explain the pertinent laws in your state and how they might affect your case.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, has represented clients all over the United States who suffered because of the actions and negligence of others. If you believe your family member was a victim of wrongful death, we could file a lawsuit on behalf of you and other relatives or a representative of your loved one’s estate to seek financial compensation.
If you miss your state’s deadline, you could lose your right to sue at all, even if you have a valid claim. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 593-3443 to speak with a member of our staff about how we may be able to help you.