What Questions Should I Ask a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
Last updated Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022
Wrongful Death Questions
Have you lost someone special due to no fault of their own? Would you like to legally hold the person or party responsible for their inexcusable actions? The best way to seek justice for your loved one is to consult a knowledgeable attorney.
These legal professionals have years of schooling that give them an edge in courtroom battles. Sure, you can fight with the defendants yourself, but it won’t be easy. The sad part is, even if you put in the ridiculously long hours it will take to get things done right, odds are that you still won’t come away with a massive settlement.
Overcoming the disadvantages of inexperience and lack of training doesn’t have to be difficult. Working with a seasoned lawyer can get things done correctly. You also stand a greater chance of leaving with a much higher award without having to quit your day job.
Meeting with a wrongful death lawyer doesn’t have to wrack your nerves. You may be anxious, but the first consultation should give you an idea if this relationship will work. Do you get along well? Are you treated respectfully? Is there a level of empathy for your situation?
Watch out for warning signs too. Do staff members seem clueless? Was your appointment rescheduled to make room for more important clients? Is the office messy? Is there a slew of negative reviews? If you get a bad vibe, then it’s best to know ahead of time before moving forward.
You’ll want to ask plenty of questions to set your mind at ease. Find out how this law firm intends to get you rightfully compensated. Learn all about the wrongful death process and what it could possibly entail. You’ll feel better knowing you’ve made the right decision.
Your case can go like clockwork when the team from Murphy Law Firm steps in. We aim to make your experience as painless as possible with a favorable ending. Our team members know the agony a wrongful death can cause. Put our skills and resources to work for you!
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a death caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person or entity. If you believe that your loved one died because of someone else’s carelessness, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.
These kinds of lawsuits are brought in an attempt to compensate those left behind for the unexpected loss. Whether occurring accidentally because the duty of care was overlooked or intentionally because of malicious intent, the outcome is still considered a wrongful death.
Some wrongful death cases can begin after the criminal case in question is resolved. While the two cases may sound similar, a criminal case and a legal case are very different in the eyes of the justice system. Proving a civil case is typically not as difficult since less evidence is required for a courtroom win.
What Rights Does a Family Have When a Family Member Died Wrongfully?
The loss of a family member is always a difficult time, but when the death is caused by the negligence of another person it can be especially devastating. While no amount of money can ever bring back a loved one, the law does provide the surviving family members with certain rights.
These include the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. If successful, the lawsuit can provide financial compensation for the loss of support and companionship, as well as funeral and medical expenses. While no amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a loved one, it can help the family to cope with the financial burdens that have been placed upon them.
Family members have the right to get financially compensated for their relative when wrongful death is to blame. Understanding your rights at this time is important. Different jurisdictions may have different laws that apply.
We know the rights you’re entitled to when wrongful death is being determined. Once you know your legal rights, you can rest easier. We can go over what you may be entitled to based on your case and the state(s) involved.
FAQs about Wrongful Death
How Does the Wrongful Death Process Work?
The process of filing a wrongful death claim is usually complex and time-consuming. The first step is to determine whether you have a valid claim. If you do, the next step is to file a lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for the death. The final step is to prove your case at trial.
Before the first step can be completed, a full investigation must typically be done. You may have strong feelings about what could have happened, but juries need proof. Evidence that backs your claim needs to be compiled. Supporting documents, like the official police report, must be reviewed carefully and organized. Facts need double-checking. Witnesses must be interviewed. Photos, recordings, and video footage can add fuel to this fire.
All of this evidence is gathered to show one of two things:
- Your loved one’s death was caused by another’s negligence or recklessness.
- Abuse or ill intent of another caused the death of your loved one.
Once your attorney has determined you have a viable claim, a lawsuit can be filed. Only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death claim. If you have gotten this far in the process, your lawyer has probably already verified that you meet specific state criteria.
While the final step may be going to trial, not all cases end up in front of a jury. There are often settlement negotiations. This type of back and forth can go on for a while depending upon the case’s nature and complexity as well as the defendants. All this work could result in a successful settlement.
Mediation is another way to resolve a wrongful death claim. A neutral third party (many are retired lawyers or judges) acts as a go-between. The mediator listens to both the defendant’s and plaintiff’s arguments. This person can make suggestions that hopefully bring the two sides closer to a resolution. If parties cannot agree to settlement amounts, then a trial is likely.
Arbitration is another option. Both parties agree to let the arbiter rule. This person listens to the case from both sides. After reviewing all related information, the arbiter rules in favor of either the plaintiff or defendant. If arbitration is non-binding, the case can still continue on to court.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In the United States, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by the surviving spouse, children, or parents of the deceased person. In some cases, the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate may also file a wrongful death lawsuit.
When these types of cases are brought to trial, many questions are asked. Answers given can determine which way the case goes. Let’s look at some popular questions that arise.
- How did the death occur? Things should add up correctly. If a plaintiff argues her father died of nursing home abuse but he had no detectable signs to indicate mistreatment, the case loses steam. The cause of a wrongful death should align with what the defendant is accused of doing.
- Who is responsible for the death? Liability is in question. Who is ultimately liable for the death of your loved one? Sometimes there’s just one person or party at fault. More often than not, several defendants are named because they all share partial responsibility.
- What are the legal consequences for the responsible party? Jury members want to know how those to blame will be held accountable. Will guilty people pay wrongful death damages and/or punitive damages? Are criminal charges pending? Getting justice for victims as well as avoiding a similar occurrence in the future are two goals.
- What are the financial consequences for the family of the deceased? Financial problems after the unexpected loss of a loved one can cause a domino effect. There could be medical bills caused by the accident. Then funeral expenses must be paid. Was the relative contributing to household income? If so, how much? Are there lost benefits too? How badly hit was the deceased’s family? What will it take to make them financially whole?
- What are the emotional consequences for the family of the deceased? How has this wrongful death taken a toll on those closest to the victim? Even the strongest family units can sometimes fold when faced with such adversity. What amount of compensation can patch this family back together? Sympathies can run especially high for parents who have lost a child. Expect many of these wrongful death suits to be substantial.
If an Insurance Company Approaches me for a Wrongful Death Settlement, What Should I Do?
If an insurance company approaches you for a wrongful death settlement, the best thing to do is to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you determine whether the offer is fair and what your options are. You should never accept any settlement without first consulting with an attorney.
Some insurance companies of liable parties will come at you right out of the gate. The consensus is that the sooner they can get you to accept an offer, the quicker they can wrap this up for their client. You won’t be missing out on anything. Lowball offers are dangled to see if you’ll bite.
Insurance adjusters have a job to do and many aim to do it well. Beware! The first conversation or two may start out friendly. The intention is to put you at ease, make you feel comfortable, and get you talking. Questions may be asked about the specific incident and how you know their client is liable.
The longer you talk, the more information can be gained about the case. And this info can go directly to clients and those protecting them. Most of these sneaky callers are recording the entire conversation so they can use it to their advantage later.
These associates may call you at inconvenient times. Repeated calls throughout the day (and even at night) can become common. Different numbers may be seen through your caller ID in hopes you answer.
Steer clear of these folks. Don’t answer any calls unless you recognize the number with absolute certainty. Evade bugging to be able to get the maximum amount of compensation.
An insurance company really knows very little of your situation. An adjuster just has paperwork with your information on it. How could these people possibly know what a fair claim value for your case could be?
Having legal representation is the only way to protect yourself. The team at Murphy Law Firm knows how these tricksters operate. We can guide you through what to say if caught off guard. Use our years of experience to help you through this process.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?
There are many different types of damages that may be recovered in a wrongful death case. These can include economic damages, such as lost wages and medical expenses, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and loss of companionship. In some cases, punitive damages may also be available.
Economic damages are the easiest to measure. If your loved one’s funeral expenses totaled $18,000, then that figure gets added to the running tally. Some of the associated costs may take longer to calculate, like the loss of income. You’ll need documentation to establish how much your relative was earning.
Non-economic damages are much harder to assess. Susan’s pain and suffering after the loss of an elderly aunt will be noticeably less than Sam’s pain and suffering after losing her 5-year-old daughter. The legal professionals at Murphy Law Firm can help you quantify these amounts.
Punitive damages can also be difficult to establish. Many factors are in play. How heinous was the act that caused the wrongful death? What shape are surviving family members in (both financially and emotionally) after this loss? What is the cap for punitive damage awards in this particular state?
Are Wrongful Death Compensations a Taxable Event?
When a person dies due to the negligence of another person or entity, the survivors may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, the survivors may receive a monetary award to compensate them for their losses. Generally, these awards aren’t considered taxable events.
There are of course exceptions to the rule. Circumstances vary with each case. Keep in mind that the court is trying to compensate you for your loss. Damages awarded are not akin to hitting the jackpot.
Punitive damages may be awarded in some cases. These monies are specifically demanded to punish defendants. Examples could be when total lack of care or horrible abuse was found to have caused the wrongful death. Note that these awards are usually taxed because the IRS views this money as additional income.
Can I be Compensated for Pain and Suffering?
In some cases, you may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering in addition to any other damages you incurred. This type of compensation is known as “non-economic damages,” and is intended to cover the physical and emotional anguish that you experienced as a result of the accident. Whether or not you will be able to receive this type of compensation will depend on the specific facts of your case.
Pain and suffering in a wrongful death case is intended to compensate relatives dealing with such a heavy emotional burden. These damages are awarded to family members who were close to the victims. Don’t expect this award if you lost a relative you hadn’t heard from in 30 years.
What Are the Most Common Wrongful Death Accidents?
There are many different types of accidents that can lead to wrongful death, but some are more common than others. Car accidents, for example, are a leading cause of wrongful death, followed by medical malpractice, workplace accidents, and defective products.
In each of these cases, someone else’s negligence or recklessness has led to the death of another, and the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. And don’t forget, just because a wrongful death may happen regularly doesn’t mean it’s common for you. Each case involves individuals and deserves to be treated as such. We don’t see you as just a case, we view you as unique and understand your loved one was special too.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
The cost of hiring a wrongful death attorney can vary depending on the lawyer and the case. Some lawyers may charge an hourly rate, while others may charge a flat fee. The cost may also be affected by the amount of work that needs to be done on the case.
When you work with Murphy Law Firm, you aren’t required to pay anything upfront. This affordable way of doing business is considered contingent. You can count on us doing our absolute best on your behalf. If we aren’t successful, you pay nothing, and we walk away empty-handed. But when we do negotiate a fair settlement, then you’ll pay an agreed-upon amount out of your award.