A wrongful death lawyer does a lot of things that ease the mind of grieving loved ones. They can investigate the circumstances that led to your family member’s death, figure out liability, advise you of your legal rights, and possibly file a lawsuit on your behalf to seek compensation for losses stemming from your loved one’s passing.
Investigating Your Loved One’s Death
The facts involved in wrongful death cases are often murky. People may give conflicting accounts regarding what happened. That may happen because of genuine confusion or misunderstandings. Still, it could also occur when a liable person or entity attempts to cover things up or shift blame to avoid accepting responsibility. A wrongful death attorney can investigate to get to the bottom of what happened.
For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 33,654 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2018. If your loved one died in a car crash, a lawyer could review the police report and statements from eyewitnesses or anyone in the car with your relative during the collision. An attorney may discover that a nearby surveillance camera recorded the collision or the moments leading up to or immediately following it. A video may provide crucial evidence that the other driver violated a traffic law or acted recklessly. That information may prove useful when building a wrongful death case.
Another common wrongful death claim could occur if your family member died because of a medical error. Johns Hopkins University found that one in 10 deaths result from medical errors.
A lawyer can review medical records and enlist the help of one or more experts to determine whether the physician who treated your relative met the standard of care. Suppose the investigation reveals that the doctor made an inaccurate diagnosis, prescribed a drug contraindicated for your family member’s condition or had a known allergy to, or made a mistake when performing surgery. That could help the legal team establish that the physician committed medical malpractice. That evidence could also help the team build a claim against the hospital where your family member received treatment.
A Lawyer Can Explain Your Legal Rights
Laws related to wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state. Depending on where you live, you may not qualify to sue for compensation. Some states limit the right to sue to immediate family members, while others allow distant relatives—and even nonrelatives—to file a wrongful death lawsuit in some circumstances. In other states, family members may not sue at all; only a representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death suit. If they collect a financial award, the representative distributes the money to eligible relatives.
States also differ regarding the statute of limitations (the amount of time that plaintiffs have to file a lawsuit). The time frame may be a year or longer, depending on where you live. If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, you may forfeit your right to sue, even if you have a legitimate claim. Under some circumstances, the statute of limitations may be tolled (extended). A wrongful death attorney familiar with your state’s laws can explain what you need to know.
An Attorney Can Seek Financial Compensation
A wrongful death lawyer can pursue awards to cover both economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages might include costs for medical care your family member received before their death, funeral and burial expenses, and the loss of income that your family member would have earned if they had lived.
Noneconomic damages are more difficult to quantify. They could include:
- The pain and suffering your loved one experienced before death
- The loss of love, support, companionship, and affection that survivors received from their relative
- The emotional anguish caused by the wrongful death
Under some circumstances, you might also sue for punitive damages. Those additional damages punish a liable party for particularly egregious behavior and serve as a warning to others not to engage in similar actions.
A lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death cases can look at all the relevant facts and determine a fair amount of compensation for your situation. The attorney can file a lawsuit and attempt to negotiate an out-of-court settlement. While settlements resolve many civil cases, sometimes the parties cannot agree. If that happens, a lawyer may take the case to trial and let a jury decide whether you should receive compensation and, if so, how much.
Contact the Wrongful Death Attorneys at Ben Crump Law, PLLC
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, has a team of lawyers who have helped clients across the United States get through some of the most trying times of their lives. We have represented families in shock following the death of a loved one and obtained financial compensation to help them move forward.
We do everything that a wrongful death lawyer must do to pursue a claim. We can investigate what led to your relative’s death, explain your legal rights, and file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek financial compensation for you and other affected members of your family. Call our office today at (800) 593-3443 to speak with a member of our staff.