Why Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney?
When a loved one passes away due to another party’s negligence, hiring a lawyer may be the last thing on your mind. Yet, the truth is, these cases are complex. Not only are they emotionally difficult, but the laws that outline how they work are complicated.
Having a wrongful death attorney familiar with the wrongful death laws in your state ensures you follow the necessary process, have the required evidence, and understand how to recover the compensation you need.
While you consider hiring a wrongful death lawyer, you should know that most offer free consultations. Here, a representative can learn about your case, assess your options, and answer your questions. What’s more, they can offer peace of mind that you’re doing everything possible to promote your legal interests.
A Wrongful Death Attorney Manages Your Case’s Many Obligations
For many, handling their loved one’s wrongful death case compounds their grief. You can give yourself time and space to heal with a wrongful death lawyer managing the case. You focus on your grief and spend time with your family and let them take care of the rest.
There are numerous other benefits of a wrongful death attorney handling your case. They include:
Lawyers Know How These Cases Work
When you work with an experienced wrongful death attorney, they know how to build and manage a successful claim. There is a certain level of knowledge and experience required to build, file, and win a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.
- Who can file the suit
- What evidence is necessary to prove the case
- What damages you can recover
- Who receives the compensation recovered in these cases
All these details are unique to wrongful death cases and are set by state law. Having an attorney near you handling your case allows you to meet all applicable deadlines and protect your right to fair compensation.
They Understand How the Insurance Companies Handle Claims
Wrongful death attorneys deal with insurance companies daily. This is integral to recovering compensation in any personal injury or wrongful death case. Most cases end with a negotiated settlement with the insurance company. For this reason, it is essential to know how to handle the company, the tactics it uses to reduce payouts, and how to negotiate a fair settlement.
Your attorney can estimate the potential settlement range of your case and use proven negotiation techniques to secure this figure. If the insurer will not cooperate, your attorney can pursue other avenues of recovering what your family deserves.
They Can Identify Your Family’s Recoverable Damages
Your attorney will fight to recover the money your family deserves based on the circumstances of your loved one’s passing. They will know the evidence necessary to show your expenses and losses and how much to demand from the liable insurer.
Lawyers understand the types of damages your state allows in wrongful death cases, how to document them, and the necessary steps to get the best possible outcome.
Reasons Why You May Consider Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
You don’t need a particular reason to hire a wrongful death lawyer. Even if you’re unsure about navigating the legal process and want an advocate, you could benefit from entrusting your case to an attorney.
Yet, some only consider representation when:
- The insurance company denies their claim.
- They don’t have enough evidence to warrant a fair payout.
- They anticipate problems recovering damages.
- There are disputes about who caused their loved one’s passing.
- The insurance company offers less money than they need.
Later in this blog, you’ll learn about how many wrongful death lawyers handle cases without charging anything upfront. This arrangement could allow you to hire a lawyer without having to pay out of pocket.
What Accidents Can Lead to Wrongful Death Actions?
Many instances could support a wrongful death action. In general, almost any incident that could support a personal injury case will also support a wrongful death claim. This includes situations when one party’s negligence causes injury or death to another. In short, a wrongful death case occurs when a victim passes away before they can file a personal injury case.
Wrongful death actions can arise from:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Rideshare accidents
- Aviation accidents
- Electrocution, fire, and burn injuries
- Product liability incidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Catastrophic injuries caused by negligence
- Dog bites
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
Wrongful Death Attorneys Cost Nothing Out of Pocket
When you hire a wrongful death attorney, you generally do not need to pay any upfront fees. As a part of your contract with them, they will get paid based on contingency. This means there are no retainers or hourly charges. Instead, they receive a percentage of the payout in your case.
The percentage depends on many factors, including:
- The work required to complete your case
- The cost of your compensable losses
- Any administrative or consulting fees
- Whether your case goes to court
- The evidence your case requires
To learn how much an attorney might cost, contact a firm for your free consultation with the team. You could get answers to many of your questions about your case during this initial conversation, including the firm’s fees.
There Are Many Time-Sensitive Factors Surrounding Wrongful Death Cases
Every wrongful death lawsuit must adhere to its state’s statute of limitations. This is a deadline that sets how long you have to file your case in civil court. Your filing period generally begins from the date of your loved one’s passing, and it ranges from one to five years. Because of this deadline, it’s a good idea to consider your options promptly. Missing the deadline means losing the right to seek damages.
There are other reasons to act quickly. For instance, evidence can disappear in a matter of days. Witnesses could move away or forget key details. Security camera footage that could’ve been compelling evidence can get deleted.
To develop the strongest case possible and hold the at-fault party accountable, you want someone to identify and preserve evidence. You also want someone on your side familiar with evidence collection and data analysis.
A Wrongful Death Attorney Seeks Full Compensation for Your Losses
Wrongful death payouts vary widely and depend greatly on the recoverable damages allowed under state law. Most states allow the recovery of both economic and non-economic damages. Your economic damage account for financial losses, while your non-economic damages account for losses like pain and suffering.
Generally, you should expect to seek compensation for the expenses and losses incurred because of your loved one’s death.
These could include:
- Medical bills from the accident date until they passed away
- Final expenses, including funeral and burial costs
- Income lost that the decedent would have earned
- Loss of services previously handled by the victim, such as childcare or lawn maintenance
You could recover compensation for your own intangible losses related to your loved one’s death. These losses could include loss of companionship, parental guidance, and more. Some states also allow you to seek money for any conscious pain and suffering your loved one endured between the date of their injuries and death. This is common when catastrophic injuries occur or they pass from complications related to their injuries.
Before you file your claim or take other action in a wrongful death case, you should consider what constitutes a fair settlement. Calculating damages can get complicated, so working with an attorney to document your losses, estimate the long-term effects, and value your intangible damages is a good idea.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Case?
When someone suffers injuries due to another party’s negligence, they could recoup their losses through a personal injury case. Yet, when that victim does not survive their injuries, though, they cannot take this action on their own. This leaves their family to seek compensation.
However, every death affects more than one person. For this reason, there are laws about who has the right to represent a family in a wrongful death lawsuit. There are also laws that dictate who receives the payout in a winning case.
The laws differ from state to state about who can file a wrongful death case.
Generally, states approach this in one of two ways:
- An immediate family member files the lawsuit
- The decedent’s personal representative files the lawsuit
However, there are significant differences even among states with similar laws about who can file a wrongful death case. Unless you are familiar with these laws, determining your legal options and who should represent your family can get complicated. A wrongful death attorney will assess your case based on the applicable laws and help you understand your next steps.
Some States Prioritize Who Can File Over Others
When a state requires an immediate family member to file the case, they often have a certain hierarchy of who has the right. Generally, this begins with those most affected by the death financially and emotionally.
The order generally includes:
- Surviving spouse, surviving spouse and children, or surviving children
- Parents, if there is no surviving spouse or children
- Siblings, if there is no spouse, children, or parents
- Grandparents, if there is no spouse, children, parents, or siblings
Some states limit the opportunity for siblings or grandparents to represent the survivors and turn the case over to the personal representative if there is no spouse, children, or parents surviving. Often, the personal representative is the next of kin, but this is not always true.
The personal representative is generally the executor of the will or administrator of the victim’s estate. If there is no personal representative named before the decedent’s death, the probate court will recognize someone for these duties as a part of handling the estate.
Who receives compensation in these cases often differs from the party who files the case. The spouse, children, and other immediate family members almost always benefit from the money recovered in these cases, even if the personal representative is not one of these parties. Your attorney will explain how this works in your state, including clearly outlining who must file the claim and who will receive financial recovery.
You Can Discuss Your Next Steps With a Wrongful Death Attorney Near You
When you lose a loved one, knowing what to do and how to protect your family’s financial future is often difficult. A wrongful death attorney knows how to address your concerns, build a case, and hold those who caused your loved one’s death accountable. While it is difficult and time-consuming for an individual to navigate this process and gather evidence based on their loved one’s death, an attorney manages these tasks daily.
Most wrongful death attorneys provide free consultations for you to learn more about your case and get answers to your most pressing questions. If you decide to hire an attorney, personal injury law firms in Phoenix generally go to work on cases with no upfront fees. You should not have to pay anything out of pocket to get started.