Any type of lawyer can handle a wrongful death claim. However, while any attorney eligible to practice law in your state can file a wrongful death lawsuit, you might want to find one who has expertise and years of experience handling those types of cases. That in-depth knowledge could benefit you more than someone who represents clients in a wide range of legal matters.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney Who Specializes in Wrongful Death Cases
The field of law is vast, encompassing everything from murder and forgery, real estate to civil liability. Even though most attorneys have a solid foundational understanding of many legal topics, every issue has relevant statutes and court cases that periodically change. A wrongful death attorney who has chosen to focus on this niche will most likely have a more detailed background and understanding of that legal area than an attorney whose practice is more generalized.
Figuring out how much compensation to seek in a wrongful death case can be challenging. Surviving relatives may be entitled to a financial award to cover:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- The deceased person’s lost income
- Loss of an inheritance
- Loss of services your loved one would have provided
- Loss of affection, support, and companionship
Some of those losses can be particularly difficult to quantify, but an attorney who has experience handling wrongful death cases understands how to approach those delicate questions and seek justice.
An insurance company might offer your family a settlement, but it might not fairly compensate you for your losses. Insurers work to protect their bottom line by settling cases for the lowest sums possible. Family members often have no idea how much compensation they could receive. Calculating a fair settlement in a wrongful death case is a complex process that requires a careful review of numerous factors. A lawyer who has experience handling wrongful death claims can determine an appropriate compensation level for your situation.
Laws That May Apply to Your Claim
In some ways, wrongful death cases follow common principles, regardless of location. A plaintiff in a wrongful death case must demonstrate:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the decedent.
- They breached that duty of care.
- The family member died as a result.
- The plaintiff suffered damages due to the death.
Beyond that, state laws differ significantly in several key areas.
For example, some states only allow a surviving spouse and minor children to sue for wrongful death. Other states let siblings, adult children, extended relatives, and individuals who were not family members file a wrongful death lawsuit.
In a few states, relatives cannot sue for wrongful death; instead, an executor or personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate must file the suit and distribute any financial award among eligible family members. An attorney specializing in wrongful death cases in your state will be familiar with pertinent laws and know who has eligibility to file a lawsuit.
States also differ on statutes of limitations. Plaintiffs have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit to seek justice. Those periods vary from state to state, and each might allow for some exceptions that extend the statute of limitations. For instance, if a doctor made a mistake that led to a patient’s untimely death, but the error was not detected until much later, the statute of limitations may be tolled. That means the clock may start running when the injury was discovered, not when it occurred.
An attorney who handles wrongful death cases in your state can explain the statute of limitations, tell you how much time you have left to take legal action, and make sure that you meet the applicable deadline, so you do not lose your right to file a claim.
A Wrongful Death Lawyer Can Help You Seek Justice
Ben Crump Law, PLLC, has a team of attorneys who have represented clients across the United States in wrongful death cases. Lawyers at our firm are well-versed in each state’s laws regarding wrongful death, statutes of limitations, medical malpractice, and other relevant matters. They can gather evidence, determine liability for your loved one’s death, build a case, and help you pursue the compensation you deserve.
A lawyer could negotiate a settlement without going to court. If that is not possible, your attorney may decide to take the case to trial to pursue justice for your family.
You need not worry about the legal costs of pursuing a wrongful death case. Ben Crump Law, PLLC, operates on contingency. We will not charge your family any upfront money to represent you. Our firm only collects a fee if we obtain an award on your behalf.
Grieving relatives who feel overwhelmed yet try to push forward might lose track of time, but statutes of limitations are strict. If you miss your state’s deadline, you might lose the right to sue. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC, today at (800) 593-3443 to speak with a team member about how we could handle your wrongful death claim.