When Do I Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
You need a wrongful death lawyer if you have lost a loved one, and you are unsure if someone is to blame. Many deaths are accidents or inevitable, but in some cases, an individual or a group acted negligently, failed to act, or intentionally caused harm that led to death.
If you have any doubts that one or more of these factors played a role in your loved one’s death, talk to a lawyer. Reputable firms will offer you a free initial consultation with no strings attached. Talking to a lawyer does not mean you have to hire them or follow through with a lawsuit. It is worth getting the information you need, so you can take the next legal step or let it go and move on from the tragic loss.
What Can a Wrongful Death Lawyer Do for Me?
The most critical initial role a lawyer plays is to clarify your situation and help you understand if your loss could be considered a wrongful death. During a time of grief and confusion, you need someone on your side. If you decide to hire a wrongful death lawyer, they can help you in several ways:
- Offer options for what to do next
- Provide guidance based on expertise and experience working with similar clients
- Determine the strength of your case and estimate if you are likely to win
- Investigate the death and provide experts to help prove negligence
- Estimate the worth of your case and maximize damages
- Settle for a fair amount, if possible
- Take your case to court and litigate on your behalf if settlement negotiations fail
- Help you collect damages if the defendant does not pay
How Will My Lawyer Prove Negligence?
If you decide to take legal action for wrongful death, your lawyer will have to prove that an individual or a group was negligent and is liable for damages. In this sense, wrongful death is like any other type of personal injury case. Your lawyer must prove four things:
- That the defendant had a duty to act in a reasonable way, such as not getting distracted by a cell phone while driving
- That the defendant breached that duty by looking at their phone and getting distracted
- That the breach in duty led to your loved one’s death, for instance by striking them with their vehicle as they rode their bike and causing injuries that proved to be fatal
- That the death resulted in damages, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income for dependents, and emotional harm to you and your family
To prove these points, your lawyer will rely on experts to investigate the incident. They will use the police report and witness accounts and your loved one’s medical records after the accident.
How to Find a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit is a big deal, so finding the right lawyer to work with is essential. Take your time to find someone you feel will be your best advocate, and realize that all reputable firms will talk to you for free before you make a choice.
Get a Referral if Possible
An ideal way to get a lawyer is a referral from someone you trust. If you know someone who has been through a similar situation, they may have a lawyer they like. You can also connect with victim advocacy groups or a support group for grief to get a referral. If you can’t find a lawyer this way, search for firms specializing in personal injury.
Narrow Your Options
With a list of personal injury lawyers, start narrowing down the options. Look for law firms that handle wrongful death cases and have proven wins for clients. Eliminate lawyers and firms that do not offer contingency payment or free case evaluations, that don’t seem to have time for you, or that have minimal experience with wrongful death.
Ask Important Questions
Interview a few lawyers and firms before you make your final choice. Make a list of questions and be sure the firm has time to answer them all:
- What experience do you have with cases like mine?
- Who will be working on my case?
- How will you investigate the incident and prove negligence?
- How strong is my case, and what is it worth?
- Can you litigate if settlement negotiations fail?
- How long do you think this process will take?
Choose Someone Who Makes You Feel Comfortable
All other factors being equal, choose the attorney you feel comfortable working with, the firm or individual you think is best able to help you. This is someone you need to trust and to help you get through this difficult time.
How to Work with Your Wrongful Death Lawyer
Once you have selected a lawyer to help with your case, you’ll be working together to get justice and recover damages. This is a two-sided relationship, and while the lawyer does much of the work, you also have responsibilities.
Be honest with your lawyer and tell them everything about the incident and its repercussions. It will be difficult to talk about, but they need all the information to best advocate for you. Provide physical evidence, such as photos of an accident or injuries, police reports, medical reports and bills, funeral bills, and other costs.
Keep in regular contact with your lawyer and ask questions as you have them. Your lawyer should keep you up to date but be proactive. Find out how the process is going and what you can do to further the case.
Wrongful death is a terrible situation. Even if the defendant did not mean to hurt anyone, they have a responsibility to take care not to cause harm. A breach in that care has consequences. Taking legal action is not profiting from a loved one’s death; it is about accountability and providing for your family. Your wrongful death lawyer will guide you through this process.