A Loved One’s Guide to Wrongful Death

Dealing with the death of a loved one is always difficult. But when they passed away because of someone else’s mistake or negligence, the experience is even more tragic. Not only does this person leave mourning loved ones behind, but unexpected medical and funeral costs.

If your loved one died because someone else was careless, you can go to court. With the help of a lawyer to build a wrongful death case, you can receive money to help you and your family with bills and the grieving process.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death claim is a civil suit for damages for causing the death of a person. The defendant (the person being sued) will not go to jail, but instead pay an amount to compensate for financial or emotional problems the surviving family experience. Sometimes a family will file a wrongful death claim after a criminal trial fails.

Instances that may qualify as wrongful death include:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Drunk driving
  • Poor maintenance of private property
  • Lack of professional oversight or supervision

Who Can File for Wrongful Death?

In most cases, only immediate family-spouses and parents-can file for wrongful death. However, if a grandparent was the legal guardian of a child, they may file. And if a parent died of elder abuse in a nursing home, their adult children may be able to file.

In almost all cases, you will need to appoint a representative of the estate to legally file your case. A lawyer can give you advice on who to pick and why, depending on your case.

Why File?

This situation may sound like a lot of trouble and legalese. But after the death of a loved one, it is often hard to resume a normal life. A successful wrongful death suit can help you get your life back.

With a wrongful death suit, you can file for two main kinds of damages. The first is financial, which covers medical bills, funeral costs, and other costs associated with an unexpected death. It can also make up for a lost income, benefits (such as health insurance), inheritance, or pensions.

If the deceased was a stay-at-home spouse, financial damages can also provide money to cover loss of services. If you’ve had to hire a maid or pay for child care because of the loss of that spouse, you can include that in your suit.

The second type is emotional damages. A spouse can file for loss of companionship, a child for loss of guidance. This also includes pain and suffering of the surviving loved ones. The damages can also help you pay for therapy and grieving counseling.

What Now?

If you’re considering filing for a wrongful death suit, contact a lawyer soon. As with most things in life, there’s a time limit to when you can file. You will also need to see a lawyer while your memories of an accident or other mishap are fresh. Many lawyers who specialize in wrongful death offer a free consultation.

Before you talk to a lawyer, gather up medical bills, insurance claims, medical records, coroner’s reports, and any other physical evidence you might have. Organize them neatly in a folder. Be prepared to ask your lawyer questions about what his or her services cost, how often you can meet, and how strong your case is.

The death of a loved one can make you feel lost and out of control. But you and your family can have control over your lives again. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer and get the closure your family needs.