Filing a Wrongful Death Claim: The Most Common Mistakes to Avoid

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If someone is responsible for causing the death of your loved one, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Nothing can bring back your loved one, but holding the liable party accountable could provide you justice and ensure their negligence stops there.

How to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

If you believe that your case falls under wrongful death, then you can read the following guide to know how to file for a claim.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Avoid waiting till half of the claim to hire a wrongful death attorney. Instead, hire an experienced lawyer to get legal help after an injury, and get your claim started smoothly from the beginning.

Search for a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death claims so that they can provide you with enough information about it. Make sure to disclose every detail of the unfortunate event to the lawyer so that he or she can use the experience to make your case successful as well.

Determine if Wrongful Death Occurred

Firstly, you need to identify whether what happened to your loved one falls under the category of wrongful death or not. If you can prove that the death was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, you can file for the claim.

You may have grounds for filing a claim if the following statements are true in your case.

  • The liable party breached his or her care of duty.
  • Your loved one suffered damages due to the breach.
  • The negligent party owed your loved one a duty of care.
  • The party’s breach of duty caused your loved one’s injury and death.

You should also know which type of accident has caused the death so that you can file a claim under the category.

Who Can File the Claim?

Since the victim is dead, the next question is who can file the wrongful death claim on his or her behalf? Every state has a different requirement regarding who can file for a claim. In most cases, this right belongs to the deceased person’s spouse or partner and then comes to the children.

If these parties do not exist, then the person who can file for the claim is anyone who has legal rights to the deceased person’s property. You might need to hire a representative to file a claim on the behalf of the victim.

Prepare Evidence

You can build a stronger claim by collecting evidence for the wrongful death of your loved one. With your lawyer, gather as much evidence as you can that is related to the fatal accident.

Evidence includes the police report, accident reports, medical records, photographs from the scene, lost wages, eyewitnesses, and testimony from the experts. Try to document the incident by yourself as well then take it to your lawyer to support the claim.

With more evidence, you can present factors that play a role in deciding the settlement amount.

File Claim Before Deadline

Once you have all the information related to the death of your loved one, you can file the paperwork claim. You or your lawyer can obtain the paperwork from a civil court in your country.

Your lawyer can fill in the information completely so that there is no issue. The information required includes the defendant’s name, address, description of the tort, and list of damages. Then you need to submit the paperwork to the correct court within two years of the death of your loved one. Working with a lawyer will help you complete the process faster.

Now that you know how to file a wrongful death claim, it is not as easy and simple. You have to take careful steps so that there are no mistakes and you can increase the chances of winning the claim.

Mistakes to Avoid When Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Not having strong grounds for legal action is one of the biggest mistakes you could make when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. It can cost you to lose the lawsuit against the party at fault and even lose money rather than getting compensated for it.

Below are some common mistakes that are commonly made by victims who file for a wrongful death claim.

Speaking about the Case Publicly

Any wrongful death happens suddenly and is tragic for the loved ones and whoever hears about it. Because of the traumatic scenarios that follow it, news about wrongful deaths can be published in the local newspaper and even national news media outlets may cover it.

Eventually, the death will become known to the public and they will seek you out to hear more about it. While they may be willing to support you, avoid discussing any details about the legal case. Anything that you may say might hurt your chances of claiming full damages.

Discussing with the Insurance Company 

The insurance company of the party at fault might contact you soon enough to settle. Since their job is to reduce the number of damages that they are responsible to pay, they will do anything to go against your claim.

If you speak to the insurance company, they might use your words against you and find out a way to show how you are not liable. Let your lawyer speak to the insurance company involved so that your claim can be protected and you get the maximum compensation that you deserve.

Not Filing Before the Deadline

Depending on your state, there is a certain deadline to file a claim. For example, in Pennsylvania, the limitations on wrongful death claims are two years. After this, you lose your right to claim any compensation at all.

The time duration is short unlike what some people think of it. The reason is that before filing for a claim, a lawyer will have to conduct an investigation and collect evidence.

Not Working with a Lawyer

Losing a loved one is the hardest thing to go through but filing a wrongful death claim is not easy either. While you are already having a tough time dealing with the loss, you should hire a lawyer you can trust.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can handle the case on your own. Hire a competent lawyer so that you have the best chance to receive a full settlement that you deserve.