When a friend or family member passes away, it’s always an emotional and difficult experience to work through it, no matter the circumstances. But if you have evidence to believe it was caused by negligence or harmful actions of another party, it only complicates the situation.
Not only will you have to mourn your loss, but you’ll also need to go through the process of filing a wrongful death claim. It’s not an easy process and it might take months or even years to reach a conclusion.
However, with the right steps you can increase your chances of getting fair compensation and rest easy as soon as possible. To help you out, here are some steps for filing a wrongful death claim.
Choosing a Lawyer
Almost all legal cases, including wrongful death cases, are highly sensitive and include very confusing laws that the average person cannot comprehend. Wrongful death lawyers can help you prepare and file a claim while complying with all state laws and requirements.
Having a lawyer with a proven record of winning such cases ensures you a better chance of obtaining appropriate compensation.
Determining the Liable Party
After you hire a lawyer, they will conduct the necessary investigation to get specific details of your case and identify the party or entity at fault. The liable party depends on the circumstances of the victim’s death.
For instance, if your loved one was hit by a car while walking on a sidewalk, the driver will obviously be held at fault. In that case, it might be best to hire an auto accident attorney as well. On the other hand, if they died as a result of medical malpractice, the doctor or nurse might be held responsible.
Preparing Evidence and Documentation
Collecting undeniable and clear evidence is a crucial step as it will help strengthen your case. Your lawyer will walk you through the process of gathering the evidence and documentation required.
This might vary depending on the case and your specific situation, but your lawyer should have enough expertise to guide you through it without any issues.
Settling Out of Court
While this may not always be an option, in many cases the party you’re preparing to file a lawsuit against will offer to settle the matter out of court.
This is usually a good option as it avoids the long and difficult process of a lawsuit and eliminates the risk of you losing. However, if an agreement can’t be made during this step, you’ll have the right to go through with the lawsuit.
Filing the Lawsuit
Now is when it’s time to officially file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party. It begins with you or your lawyer filing a complaint or Writ of Summons through the courthouse.
The complaint will outline details of the lawsuit, including the facts and laws supporting your claim and most importantly the compensation amount your lawyer is requesting on your behalf.
Working through Litigation
The litigation phase is usually the longest step of the whole legal process and includes multiple smaller phases, including the discovery phase, requests for documentation, pre-trial, and trial.
During this phase, both parties can continue to negotiate and reach a settlement that they both agree on. If no settlement is decided, the litigation will continue until the trial is over. After which, the jury or judge will issue a verdict.
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