Having a loved one pass away before their time is hard enough on its own. It’s even harder when it’s the result of neglect from the people who are supposed to care for them.
Wrongful death is a cause of death that you would think is uncommon. Unfortunately, it’s one of the leading causes of death in the United States. You need to be prepared to deal with it if it happens to your loved one.
Dealing with a wrongful death can be stressful and time-consuming. Follow the five steps below to learn how to file a wrongful death suit so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Find the Right Attorney
You’re in for a long and hard battle when you file a wrongful death suit. The people involved in your case aren’t likely to admit fault if you don’t bring a solid case to court. You need to have a person who knows the process on your side during this time.
When you look for an attorney, make sure you find someone who specializes in wrongful death cases. While a general attorney can represent you, it isn’t likely that they know all the ins and outs of these types of cases. Someone who specializes in wrongful death knows all the little details that can help you make your case.
Look for someone who has a long history of winning. Ask about your attorney’s case history to see how many wins and losses they have.
It’s even better if they have taken some of their cases to trial. You want someone willing to go through the entire process to get you the settlement you’re owed.
Find the Right Person to File
Not everyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit. There has to be some relationship with the deceased if you want to file a claim.
The first option is the spouse of the deceased. They can file the claim themselves or use an attorney to file a claim for them.
If there is no spouse, immediate family is next in line. This includes any parents, siblings, and children. If there is no close family found, any blood relative can then file a claim.
The rules for this can vary by state. Make sure you ask your attorney about your state’s laws, so the right person files the lawsuit.
Get Your Documentation
The defendant of the wrongful death case will do everything they can to diminish your claim. This means you need all the facts you can get before you begin the process.
Start by getting all the medical records of your loved one. You need to get the details of their sickness and what caused them to pass away.
You need to use these records to prove that someone was responsible for the death. You can do this by establishing the following.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is the contract between a doctor and a patient. The doctor has a responsibility to make sure your loved one is taken care of.
Breach of Duty
Once you’ve proven that a doctor had a duty to care for your loved one, you need to show that they failed to fulfill that role. Look for any irregularities in your documents. If required, you can talk to another doctor to get their opinion on the matter.
Lack of Care Resulted in Death
It isn’t always enough to prove that a doctor failed to care for your loved one. You need to show that their inaction or mistake caused their death.
Proving this can be tricky when dealing with someone who was already sick. You need to prove that it wasn’t the illness that caused the death.
Decide on Damages
You can’t start a case without figuring out how much money you are entitled to receive. You can do this by considering the following items.
Pain and Suffering
In many cases, negligence causes unneeded suffering for the deceased. When this happens, you’re entitled to receive compensation for their suffering.
Your medical bills are high enough already. If someone dies as a result of negligence, the chances are that they’ve received additional treatment to try and save them.
You can claim any medical treatments that are a result of neglect in your wrongful death case. Look through your documentation and talk with a doctor to figure out how much money was spent dealing with negligence.
If your loved one worked, you aren’t only losing money because of medical bills. You’re losing all the money that they would have made in the future.
Take their current salary and multiply it out over several years. You can claim this future income in your case.
File Your Lawsuit on Time
Yes, you need to prepare everything you can for this case. Unfortunately, you don’t have all the time in the world to do this.
There is a statute of limitations when filing a wrongful death case. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to bring your case to court.
The timeframe you have varies by where you live. Look at the laws in your state to learn how long you have to file your lawsuit.
Your timeframe may also change based on when a location starts its timeline. In some places, your deadline begins at the time of death. In others, it begins when you first discover that harm was done.
Now You Know How to File a Wrongful Death Suit
The last thing you should do is go into a wrongful death lawsuit and not know how to handle things. Now that you know how to file a wrongful death suit, you can get things done the right way. Make sure you don’t miss any steps, so you maximize your steps of filing a successful case.
Finding the right help can make the difference between winning and losing your case. Head back to our blog to learn how to find the best attorney for the job.