Although death is a natural part of life, it still affects us as human beings, especially if the deceased is a loved one or even a family member. Death can occur due to the negligence, recklessness, or direct actions of another party. Deaths also sometimes occur due to defective equipment or products. These may include cars and car parts, medical devices, power tools, appliances, and car seats or high chairs for kids.
When a person or company is held responsible for a victim’s death, a lawsuit can be filed. Knowing how to get legal help from an attorney is crucial for ensuring the family can seek the compensation they are due. With the help of an attorney, a family who has lost someone wrongfully can make sure that they are justly recompensed.
Families of Victims Have Rights
When someone dies because of the negligence or reckless actions of another person, the victim’s family or a representative of the estate has the right to pursue the responsible party for their measurable damages. Measurable damages are those that can be backed up with evidence. These may include, but are not limited to, medical treatment costs, funeral and burial costs, pain and suffering of the deceased, and emotional and mental stress placed on the family due to the death of their loved one.
The grieving family could decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit allows them to collect monetary damages for their loved one’s untimely death. While financial compensation does not lessen the harm that has been caused, it does, however, ensure that justice has been meted out against the responsible party.
The family has a right to hire an attorney to help them pursue the matter. They should understand that they have a right to file a lawsuit if the mediation process does not end up in a fair outcome. Although the deceased’s family members could pursue their case without legal representation, this will likely result in a loss and no monetary compensation.
What Are the Elements of a Claim?
Those filing a wrongful death lawsuit are proposing that due to the deceased person losing their life due to someone else’s negligence, they were directly impacted both emotionally and financially. There are certain elements that must exist in this type of civil lawsuit for the victim’s party to receive compensation. The burden of proving the existence of these elements rests on the shoulders of the plaintiff which is why legal representation is so important in these sensitive cases. If the following elements cannot be proven, it is doubtful the wrongful death case will hold up in court.
- A human being must have died.
- The death must have been caused by another person or company’s negligence or by intent to do harm.
- The surviving family members must have suffered measurable damages as a direct result of the death.
- The estate must have appointed a personal representative to represent the estate and family in court.
As with all types of civil lawsuits, having the right amount of evidence is critical for being able to prove liability in court. When a lawyer is hired, they immediately launch their own investigation and work towards gathering evidence to hold the at-fault party responsible for the damages they have caused. It is imperative that proper and sufficient evidence is obtained so that just compensation will be delivered.
Sometimes, families are simply unsure of their legal rights. They may wonder if they have a viable claim and enough evidence to take the matter to court. This is when scheduling a consultation appointment is so important. A consultation allows the family to learn information on their rights, the laws governing these cases, and how much their claim is worth. Consultations with an attorney may prove to be a great asset to a grieving family as they explore how the one who caused their loved one’s death may be held accountable.
A Civil Lawsuit Is Not Contingent on Criminal Charges
This type of case is not contingent on criminal charges, and this means that it is a civil matter and can be pursued even if criminal charges are not being filed or have resulted in a not-guilty verdict. There are many case precedents that support this fact. The deceased’s family members do not have to wait for a verdict in any criminal case. They have the right to pursue legal matters in court right away.
One of the biggest obstacles families face is staying within the confines of the statute of limitations. For example, in San Diego, California, families must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of death. Waiting to file beyond this point would result in the case being thrown out of court and the family capitulating their rights to further pursue the matter.
That is why it is very important that the deceased person’s loved ones take advantage of their right to receive some sort of compensation immediately. if they wait too long, they may not be able to take their case to court and get the justice that they so longingly desire.
Damages Suffered in This Civil Matter
The primary damages suffered in a death claim are financial in nature. In court, they are often referred to as pecuniary damages. The pecuniary damages that are common in these cases include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses directly related to the death
- Loss of expected income of the deceased
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of value of goods and services provided by the deceased
There are also non-economic damages that can be pursued against the defendant and they include the following:
- Mental anguish and emotional pain of the surviving family members
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of care, guardianship, guidance, and advice
- Loss of consortium from the deceased
In certain cases, depending on the state, victims can also pursue punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded by the jury and they are meant to punish the actions of the defendant. However, the state of California is one that has put laws in place barring victims from being able to pursue punitive damages, no matter how vitriolic the actions of the defendant.
Preparing for the Consultation Appointment
In most cases, attorneys offer free consultation appointments to grieving families. These appointments help the family to understand their rights and their best options for legal recourse. Without meetings such as these, those families suffering through the loss of their loved one may very well not know what legal options they have available at their disposal.
Because of the sensitive subject matter, it is wise for families to sit down and write out the details of the case. When sitting before the attorney, a person can become nervous and emotional, leading them to forget to share important details with the attorney. When emotions run high, it is important for the necessary details to have already been put in writing to guarantee the family’s attorney receives all pertinent information.
Any known evidence should be shared with the attorney and the family should be prepared to answer questions. Taking notes during the consultation is helpful in being able to recall important details shared by the attorney. In addition to notetaking, it may even be wise to record the audio of your meeting with the attorney so as to ensure that no details have been missed.
How to File a Claim
When a loved one has died because of the negligence or direct intent of a company or an individual, the family has the right to file a lawsuit. Whatever the cause may be of a loved one’s death, families need to know that they have every right to seek justice on behalf of their departed loved one. Because there are many steps involved in the process, many families rely on the services of an attorney.
The attorney takes over all the steps involved and becomes an advocate for the family of the deceased. They work to make sure the family receives the fair compensation they are owed. No amount of money could possibly replace a loved one or take away the pain that is felt, but it can make things easier financially and ease that burden. The last thing a grieving family needs in such a terrible circumstance is financial stress, so being able to work with a lawyer and file a claim for compensation is a great blessing.
If you have lost a loved one due to negligence, it is your right to hold the responsible party accountable for your loss and pain. Justice and accountability are not benefits of the privileged few; rather, everyone who has lost loved ones has the right to have the offending party be held liable. Putting a monetary value on the death of precious life is not easy. Call us today and schedule your free consultation appointment. We will help you every step of the way and fight for your rights until justice is served.