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What to do after a wrongful death

We understand how difficult it is to face the loss of a loved one. When this happens, the last thing one has in mind is to take legal action. However, it is important that in cases where another's negligence caused the death,, the family of the deceased consults with a lawyer as soon as possible since there is a limited period to file a wrongful death claim.


In addition to the emotional trauma of losing a loved one, family members may also face difficulties after losing the financial support of the deceased person. The compensation obtained by a wrongful death lawyer can alleviate this financial burden.


Definition of death by negligence


Death by negligence means that someone died due to the negligence, imprudence, or error of another person or entity. To establish that a death occurred due to negligence, a lawyer needs to prove that the individual at fault had a duty of care towards the person who died, that his action or omission violated that duty of due diligence, or that his erroneous action was the immediate cause of death. Some of the most common causes of death by negligence are:


Traffic accidents


Road accidents take the lives of about 35,000 people each year. Some of the main causes of fatal accidents are: driving under the influence of alcohol (31%), not implementing precautionary measures such as the use of seat belts (30%), speeding (29%) and distracted driving (11%).


When these accidents occur due to negligence and result in the death of a person, the law demands the person at fault provide compensation to the victim's relatives.


Birth injuries


The arrival of a child in the world is a reason for great joy and excitement. At the time of delivery, we place our trust in qualified professionals. Unfortunately, a doctor, an obstetrician, or a nurse can make mistakes, and the consequences can be tragic.


When such a misfortune occurs, relatives may not want to have to deal with lawyers, laws, or courts. However, it is the job of an experienced attorney to seek fair compensation.


Injuries/Death caused by Products


There are three main reasons why products may cause injuries or wrongful death:


1.     Incorrect labeling or advertising - Products are supposed to be labeled with information about any potential risk of each item. In addition, instructions should summarize its safe and effective use. When information on instructions and labels is insufficient, these may lead to an injury or death.


2.     Manufacturing defects. In some cases, a product is designed safely and effectively, but during the manufacturing process, mistakes may be made, resulting in a defective product. Especially when the manufacturing process is carried out abroad, where companies have less control over how their product is manufactured.


3.     Design defects. In some cases, manufacturers make an unsafe product from the design stage. For example, toy designers could create toys with small removable parts that carry a risk of suffocation and cause fatal injuries to babies and children. Toys could also be designed with sharp edges that cause injuries. Sports equipment could be designed with flaws and may not work properly, causing injuries.


Truck accidents


Truck accidents are a major cause of death in the United States, claiming about 3,500 lives each year. These accidents present several legal challenges, which is why it is necessary to hire a lawyer with extensive experience.


When somebody loses a loved one in an accident of this type, the battle takes place on several fronts. Not only do we seek to hold the person accountable, but we also try to get them to provide benefits to the family of the deceased.


Medical malpractice


We speak of negligence or medical malpractice when a patient suffers damages, complications or death due to an error committed by a medical professional. Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 11.5% of fatalities each year.


When we lose a loved one due to medical malpractice, apart from the pain and mourning that we face, the loss could also manifest in monetary terms that could cause additional anguish, and that's why there are laws in place that attempt to make a family whole, monetarily.


Damages in cases of death by negligence


The court considers several factors to determine compensation for survivors of the deceased. These factors include the relationship between the survivor and the deceased, the amount of net income available to the survivor, and the life expectancy of all parties; the lawyer will take into account every detail in order to prepare a legal strategy that focuses on getting a fair outcome for the people affected.  The lawyer strives for an outcome that gives peace and tranquility to the mourners while honoring the memory of the person who has passed away.


Depending on your situation, you may receive compensation for:


·      Burial expenses

·      Medical expenses

·      Stress and emotional distress

·      Loss of income

·      Pain and suffering

·      Loss of consortium


Who Can File Suit for Wrongful Death?


A very important step that must not be overlooked is that a loved one's wrongful death can be the basis for a lawsuit filed on behalf of the estate by the personal representative, also known as the executor of the estate. The executor is assigned either by the decedent's will or by an act of law.


If there was no will, a negligent death claim can be filed by the deceased representatives or survivors who suffered physical and mental traumas because of their death. These are known as "real parts of interest" and their representative is usually the executor of the victim's estate, but this may vary from state to state.


Examples of designated beneficiaries might be:


·      Direct relatives of the deceased - this includes children, partners, spouses, and adopted children if any. Parents of unmarried children who died due to negligence can also file the claim on their behalf.

·      Distant members of the family - In some states, distant members of the deceased may also present this claim, these could be grandparents or siblings. This also includes people who believe that they married the deceased.

·      Financial dependents - In some states, people who were financially dependent on the victim may also file a claim for wrongful death, even if they are not related by blood or marriage.


Setting up an estate for a wrongful death claim:


If the decedent died without a will, then the decedent is deemed to have died "intestate." In this situation, "intestacy laws" will determine who the executor of the estate will be. Also, if the will does not properly assign an executor, or if the appointed person is unable to fulfill their duties as executor, a court and judge can be requested to assign an executor for the estate.


The executor's duties also include the disbursement of property to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, obtaining information about any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate, and approving or disapproving creditors' claims. An executor also is responsible for makes sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed, tax payments made, and in all ways assists the attorney on behalf of the estate.


In summary, someone must be appointed as a representative of the estate to pursue the lawsuit. Speak with a local attorney to get specific advice and help. We recommend you to obtain legal counsel, as there are a lot of technical details that can detract from or even completely tank an otherwise meritorious action.


But most importantly, given the technical legal details, take the step of hiring a  competent lawyer to guide you through the process of a wrongful death case.


If you have lost a loved one and suspect it was because of negligence, contact us for free and one of our experienced lawyers will help you to determine what options may be available. Our attorneys are committed to helping families who are recovering from a loss and have a track record of success in obtaining compensation in these types of cases.

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