People who have lost a loved one through the negligence, neglect or wrongful act of another, are often paralyzed with anger and anguish. It is hard to imagine how this wrongful death will affect their lives. We understand their special needs at this most difficult time.
There is never adequate compensation for the loss of a loved one, but the law has provisions to make things right by ordering the at-fault party or parties to compensate you for your economic and non-economic losses.
If you believe that your loved one died as a result of another’s negligence, wrongful act or neglect, we urge you to talk to one of our caring, aggressive and experienced attorneys for advice on a wrongful death lawsuit. Our firm’s reputation in this area is based on outstanding professional service, a sincere concern for our clients, and the care we take in handling every aspect of a wrongful death claims.
The economic losses that our firm can help you recover in a wrongful death law suit include medical expenses, hospital bills, wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, funeral, burial expenses and the economic loss of future services the deceased would have provided had he or she lived. Non-economic losses that are recoverable include loss of love, nurturing and companionship due to the loss of your loved one.
In certain aggravated situations, a court can also order damages beyond financial damages to be paid as a deterrent and punishment, to prevent this type of event from happening to others. These are called punitive damages. Our firm’s lawyers—with over 200 years of combined legal experience–are knowledgeable and skilled in representing surviving families in wrongful death suits. For over 45 years, our firm has been fighting for the rights of individuals and families seeking justice and compensation for wrongful deaths.
Wrongful death lawsuits are particularly complicated. The cases can be expensive and time consuming to litigate because they require extensive investigation and often the assistance of experts to help bolster your case. You should seek a law firm that is familiar with all aspects of a case like yours and also check whether the law firm has the financial resources to pay for the detailed investigation, research and experts needed to win your case. The difference between seasoned veterans and novices will show up in a case like this more so than in many other types of cases.
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Wrongful Death FAQs
The statute of limitations in the state where the death occurred establishes the final date on which the case must be filed. However, filing requirements are different in certain specific situations. For example, the time allowed is dramatically shorter if governmental agencies are being sued.
Because the laws governing wrongful death are complicated and confusing, it is extremely important to work with a law firm that understands not only the basic law, but also explores the many avenues of potential recovery possible in your case.
A wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the deceased was killed as a result of negligence, neglect or wrongful action of the defendant and that the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s conduct.
There are three types of damages available to survivors in a wrongful death lawsuit. There are the economic damages which are based on the case your attorney makes for the financial losses and loss of services suffered because of the death of this individual. There are also non-economic losses that include the loss of love, companionship, affection and nurturing. A third type of compensation–punitive damages– are sometimes awarded to the survivors in cases where the court or jury wants to further punish the defendant for intentional and, in some instances, extremely outrageous, willful and wanton conduct, and send a message to others that this should never happen again.
Economic loss is based on the facts brought forward to determine what burial, funeral and medical expenses resulted from the death and what the deceased would have earned or accumulated had he/she lived a normal life span. This is often a very complex calculation. The courts take into consideration the age of the deceased, the condition of the deceased’s health prior to the accident, his/her earning capacity and prospects for earning at the time of death. They will try to determine what kind of assistance and services he/she would have rendered to the family, the age and needs of the children and many other factors including the wealth he/she might have accumulated during a normal life span. It is important for the survivors’ lawyer to make the case—often with the help of expert witnesses—on verifiable economic losses to the family.
The personal losses suffered after a wrongful death incident are incalculable, yet the courts seek to determine a sum that would compensate the family for their tragic loss. It requires legal skill and effort to help the court understand the desolation that follows a wrongful death. There are many variables in how these damages are determined, and it is important that your attorney make a solid case for the all the non-economic losses suffered—your loss of companionship, nurturing, love and affection, in addition to the emotional stress, pain and suffering, mental stress and inconvenience experienced.
What is the difference between the civil and criminal cases that can be brought regarding the death?
Even if the party at fault could not be convicted in criminal court, the standards for proof are different in civil court—where wrongful death actions are filed. A good example is the O.J. Simpson case where on Oct. 3, 1995, Simpson was exonerated in a criminal trial charging him with the murder of his wife and her friend. He was later sued by the victims’ families in civil court where on February 4, 1997, the court awarded the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman $33.5 million.
Can I bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never held a job-for example a stay-at-home mother?
Yes. The “value” of the deceased in terms of damages in a wrongful death case is determined using economic and non-economic measures. When a caregiver dies, the family suffers a loss of service, which can be quantified in economic terms because they now may have to pay to replace those services. There is also the great non-economic loss of the love, nurturing, affection and companionship.
It is not easy to predict how long it will take because many factors come into play. We can say, however, that our firm treats wrongful death lawsuits as a top priority and pushes them along as promptly as humanly possible so that you are able to recover your losses and move ahead with your life.