Understanding Wrongful Death Cases: 6 Facts to Know

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The very thought of losing someone close to your heart is devastating, and when it happens, the whole world seems to stop for a moment. Especially if you have to deal with wrongful death when your loved one dies as a result of someone else’s carelessness, the burden becomes even heavier and you simply don’t know what to do or where to ask for help. Nothing can bring that person back, but what you and your family can do is legally fight for their rights, making this whole traumatic event a bit easier to handle. Here are some important facts you need to know to better understand wrongful death cases.

The role of a lawyer

Wrongful death cases are notoriously difficult and emotionally draining. So, the assistance of an attorney is essential. They ensure the claim is submitted accurately by providing legal counsel and direction. Just like a wrongful death lawyer in Manchester, NH says, no amount of money can compensate for the tragic loss of a loved family member, but a successful claim can provide you and your family with peace of mind, at least from the monetary point of view. A lawyer’s job will be to collect evidence to construct a strong case. They will collect documentation like accident reports, medical histories, and witness accounts. Also, they will work closely with specialists to determine the total amount of damages, making sure that the compensation is fair and enough to cover all the losses. Also, they will mediate disputes with other parties, usually insurance providers. If a settlement is not possible, then your lawyer will help you present your case in court. Their knowledge and experience will be crucial in fighting for your rights and getting the money you and your family deserve. 

Recoverable damages

In almost every personal injury case, you have the right to claim monetary and non-monetary damages, and so is the case with wrongful death. The court can also impose punitive damages as a form of punishment for the offender’s severe misconduct that leads to someone’s death. You as a family member have the right to claim damages for the following:

  • Money you need for funeral costs
  • Money to cover all healthcare costs
  • Distress and suffering
  • Lost possibility of future income 
  • Loss of family companionship

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

To file a wrongful death claim, you must adhere to certain legal procedures, and there are some limits to who may do so. Any legal relative of the deceased person can file a claim. Usually, those are spouses and children. If they are absent, then parents, siblings, or other family members can do the same. Claims for wrongful death are first and foremost the spouse, children, parents, and lineal descendants of a person who has passed away. In the absence of any of these persons, then the court can designate one individual to file a wrongful death claim. 

Is there a statute of limitations?

Usually, there is a two-year time frame after the death to bring a wrongful death claim. So, if your family member has died as a result of someone’s carelessness, you have two years from the date of their death to sue the responsible party. The court will most likely dismiss your case if you fail to file it on time. Also, if the person responsible was not in the state at the time when the death occurred, then this regulation does not apply. It’s essential to consult with a lawyer immediately after your family member dies to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines for a successful case. 

How to prove negligence?

There are four main parts that you need to perform to prove negligence in a wrongful death claim. First of all, there is a duty of care. This means that you must prove that the defendant had a legal responsibility to take reasonable care of the decedent. For example, drivers have a duty of care to be careful while driving to not put anyone else in danger. 

Then, there is a breach of duty, meaning that you must prove that the defendant’s acts or lack thereof constitute a violation of this duty of care. To do this, you must prove that they did not behave reasonably. For example, a doctor would have violated their duty of care if they failed to diagnose a treatable condition, made a surgical mistake, or prescribed the wrong medication. 

Causation means that the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the decedent to die. This means that you must prove the connection between this carelessness and your loved one’s death. Accident reports, expert testimony, and medical data can help you prove this connection.

Finally, you must prove that there were some measurable damages as a consequence of death. Monetary losses, as we have already mentioned, include medical bills, burial costs, and lost income. Non-monetary damages include mental anguish and loss of companionship. 

Complexity and challenges

Both defendants and plaintiffs face a lot of hardships and challenges when involved in wrongful death cases. The complicated nature of these cases adds another layer of burden to an already challenging situation. A lot of evidence has to be reviewed, including medical records, accident reports, witness statements, and expert reports. Also, if there are some disagreements about the evidence, then there are long legal debates that can be quite emotionally taxing, especially for the deceased person’s family. People must be quite knowledgeable about this part of the law to make sure that the case is resolved successfully. Dealing with the statute of limitations, recoverable damages, and who has the right to file a wrongful death claim can be complex at first, but with the right experts, anyone can navigate this challenging path and ensure justice for their loved one. 

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Finally, wrongful death lawsuits bring a ray of hope for families who have lost their close ones as a result of someone’s carelessness. Even though these cases can be very emotionally taxing and difficult to deal with, it is important to be brave and step into the legal process to bring justice to the one you have lost.

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