Your loved one has died.
That is the essential fact of a wrongful death case. You lost your person suddenly. They’re gone and now you’re grieving. At some point in that process, you consider litigation. That’s where we come in.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a time machine. We can’t take back what happened.
Instead, we can help you evaluate whether someone else was at fault and what to do about it.
There are a couple issues with wrongful death cases. But first, a caveat. Do not draw conclusions from what you read on the Internet. Talk to a lawyer licensed in your state. Expect the answer to take some time. The only way to figure this out properly is to measure twice and cut once—your lawyer needs to check the rules very carefully.
One issue is standing. Standing is the idea of who can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Each state has slightly different rules. In general, a spouse can bring a claim for the death of their partner. A child can bring a claim for the death of a parent. A sibling may be able to bring a claim for the death of a sibling. A parent can sometimes bring a claim on behalf of a child, but if the child has a spouse, perhaps only the spouse can bring the claim. It depends. A boyfriend or girlfriend, generally, cannot bring a claim for the death of a partner—and, yes, we recognize that is profoundly unfair in certain instances. Our job is to tell you what the law is, even when it’s not in your favor.
Sometimes the issue is whether you can sue the government. If it’s the government’s fault, and you want to sue a federal, state or local agency, there are special time limits and notice requirements. For example, if someone died in a state facility due to the government employee’s fault, then you need to notify the government of your claim within a certain period of time. You also need to submit the notice in the correct way. This gets technical very fast, and again, it depends on your state.
A third issue. Because the loss is so great in a wrongful death case, it’s common for the cases to require more time and resources. Depending on the parties and the court system, these cases can take more than a year. Sometimes several years. They almost always require expert witnesses. Your attorney should be able to give you a proposed timeline and range. Your attorney should take care of the expert witness fees.
Again, this is another area, where you don’t want to guess what’s going to happen six steps ahead. If you’re like me, and you plan for every detail and always want to know the details of even remote possibilities, then this is easier said than done. Good luck.
A fourth issue. How will the lawsuit affect you? They’re going to fight back.
Wrongful death cases take a toll on the client. You will be forced to relive and talk about the good times with your loved one, and also how they died. You will learn details about the cause and manner of death that you shouldn’t have to know.
Your attorney must establish how they died to show that the other party is at fault.
Your attorney must show what they meant to you in order to show what lost and need to be compensated for.
In any lawsuit, the other side is going to fight you on these issues.
Be prepared for them to dispute the manner of death. For example, they may want to argue that it wasn’t as painful as your attorney and experts say it was. Disgusting. They could argue that your loved one was somehow at fault—that they weren’t paying attention when it happened. But the Defense is entitled to present a strong case, and make the arguments they’re going to make.
They may even try to fight you on what your relationship meant. For example, if you were estranged from the parent who died, then they could bring that up. They could argue that a rough patch in your relationship with a spouse or parent means you should be compensated less.
The best way to deal with the defense in an emotional case is to use your attorney to put distance between you and the defense counsel. There will be times, such as depositions and trials, when that is not possible. The way to deal with it is to have a plan and to execute it.
In a wrongful death case, really in every case, you want to be in a position where it doesn’t matter what the other side is going to say. By bringing the case, you start with the control. If you have a plan, and you execute it, then it doesn’t matter what the other side says or does. The facts are the facts; and under the law, the facts are on your side.
This is a hard situation.
Think about whether you’re doing this for your loved one. Are you doing it for yourself? Are you doing it for your loved one’s children? Are you doing it so that it doesn’t happen again? So that someone else doesn’t suffer what you suffered? If you bring one of these claims, the other side will change what they’re doing. There is a chance you can prevent this from happening to someone else. Often, that’s the most important reward.
Very pleased. Alex was very helpful during a stressful time for my family. He thoroughly explained the process and kept us informed of the procedure. We felt he always had our best interest at heart.
We were very pleased with the outcome of our situation. I would highly recommend Alex to anyone needing legal help.