Wrongful Death Settlements
Losing a loved one or someone close to you is always heartbreaking. But losing them in an avoidable accident is more painful. Not only must you deal with your grieving, but you must also deal with financial difficulties. This is true if you depended on the departed for financial support.
The best way of seeking justice for your loss is by filing a wrongful death settlement. In addition, you will be able to recover substantial financial losses from the party at fault. This allows you to concentrate on what’s most important–healing and moving forward.
In order to learn more about these types of settlements and your legal options, here are six important factors to consider.
1. What Qualifies as Wrongful Death
If you are unsure whether your case constitutes as a wrongful death case, you can always consult with an attorney who specializes in the field. An experienced lawyer will clarify the matter for you.
In fact, some law firms specialize in specific wrongful death cases. For instance, a wrongful death lawyer may only represent you if your loved one died from homicide. However, if the victim died from a road accident, the lawyer might not be able to represent you.
Also, it’s important to note that not all wrongful deaths are a crime. Oftentimes, such accidents are a result of negligence, like car accidents. For example, if a teen was texting while driving, then collided with a pedestrian resulting in death, this would qualify as wrongful death. However, it would not be considered a crime, like a homicide.
2. Statute of Limitations
The wrongful death statute of limitations dictates the amount of time a plaintiff (the individual filing the claim) can file a lawsuit. This time frame varies by state and sometimes by the incident. For instance, in a wrongful death settlement, the plaintiff is given two years to file. However, wrongful death lawyers may convince the court to extend the period based on the circumstances.
Also, for most wrongful death cases, the plaintiff should file once death occurred, not when the accident did. However, if you present your case after the period has passed, the court will, unfortunately, dismiss your case.
3. Those Who Qualify for Wrongful Death Settlements
Typically, only people who had a direct relationship with the deceased may file this suit. For example, designated beneficiaries can include the following:
- Immediate family members, like biological or adopted children
- Parents of unmarried children
- Distant family, like siblings and grandparents
- Domestic spouses or life partners
- Dependents who were directly and financially affected by the death
However, not all parents are eligible to file a claim on their deceased child’s behalf. The parents must have played an active role in their lives. Essentially, the law prevents undeserving individuals from unfairly seeking compensation.
4. How Compensation Is Awarded
There are two forms of compensation for wrongful death settlements, and the plaintiff decides the preferred form. These awards are structured settlements and lump-sum payouts.
For structured settlements, the amount determined by the court is paid monthly. However, all parties involved must agree to this arrangement. Families favor this form of compensation due to long-term support.
In a lump-sum payout, the defendant receives all the money at once. The amount is usually sufficient to pay for all the damages caused. However, lump-sum payouts are risky because there is a chance that the money will not be utilized wisely.
5. Recoverable Damages
No amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one. However, it can financially prepare you and your family for the future. The compensation is not only a way of apologizing to the victim. It is also a way of helping them pay for the damages they face due to wrongful death. Some of the damages covered by the compensation include:
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of financial support
- Medical expenses
If the passing occurred as a result of complications from the injuries sustained from the accident, then the medical expenses can still be recouped.
6. Steps for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Now that you know more about the details surrounding a wrongful death case, it’s important to understand the actions that must be followed when filing a claim. First, when searching for an attorney to work with, consider:
- Area of legal practice
- Track record
- Client satisfaction rate
- How long the firm has been in practice
- Fees and billing
Online research or personal references are effective ways to find an attorney that’s right for you. Also, be sure to read online reviews. This will help you weigh your options. Next, your lawyer will guide you on which documents to obtain. For instance, you will need to bring the victim’s death certificate. Another useful document is a police report from when the incident occurred.
The defendant may attempt to offer wrongful death settlements out of court. If you agree to their terms, then the pursuit for the wrongful death claim ends. However, if you disagree with the terms, the case then proceeds to trial.
Lastly, after the trial, you can expect to be paid for the damages. You will only succeed once you can provide convincing evidence. Again, ensure your lawyer is a specialist in a particular cause of death. Wrongful death claims for road accidents and homicides have different legal procedures. Choosing the wrong lawyer will drastically affect the outcome of your case.
Wrongful Death Attorneys
Here at Alpha Accident Lawyers, our hearts go out to you if you have lost someone close to you. Our lawyers are experienced in handling wrongful death suits, and we will fight to bring you justice. To schedule a complimentary case assessment, please, contact us. We’re available to assist you with any questions you may have 24 hours a day, seven days a week.Call for Your Free Consultation