If you have experienced the loss of a family member due to the actions or inactions of another, it is important to understand that you have rights and options under the law. Under some circumstances, you may be entitled to monetary damages associated with the victim’s death.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action with a lower burden of proof than a criminal case, but there will still be many steps in the process of filing a claim. Here are some of the ways that a wrongful death lawyer may be able to help you through the process.
Evaluating the Elements of Your Case
A wrongful death lawyer can evaluate, from the start, whether you have an actionable wrongful death case. An immediate family member of the victim is typically the claimant, while other extended family members are eligible to file suit in some states. A representative of the victim’s estate may also serve as the plaintiff in a wrongful death suit. There are four key elements that you must generally prove in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Fault: You will need to prove that the death was caused entirely or in part by reckless, careless, and/or intentional actions or inactions of the defendant.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant must have owed some duty to the victim. For instance, vehicle operators have a duty to drive safely and follow traffic laws. Doctors and medical providers have a duty to support the health of their patients.
- Causation: The lawsuit must prove that the victim’s death was a direct result of the defendant’s actions or inactions.
- Damages: You must have experienced quantifiable damages as a result of the victim’s death, such as medical expenses, burial and funeral costs, loss of income or potential earnings, loss of inheritance, or other expenses.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer will examine these elements with you to determine if you have grounds upon which to file a strong case.
Research and Planning
As an experienced wrongful death lawyer – including those who practice at Saavedra Law Firm, PLC – can confirm, preparing a wrongful death case involves strategizing, careful investigation, expert consultation, and meeting with witnesses. Once the claim has been filed, your case will include mediations, demands, and possibilities for settlement. If the case cannot be settled by agreement, you may take the case to trial. A wrongful death lawyer will need to meet the burden of proof for your case; without this burden of proof, no award or compensation can be recovered.
As you can see, the process of a wrongful death lawsuit can be complex. If you are considering a wrongful death lawsuit, seek the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer in your area as soon as possible, as filing these kinds of cases is a time-sensitive matter.