ZINDA WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYERS – NATIONWIDE
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When a loved one dies in a wrongful death accident, surviving family members may be left with substantial debt and heartache. The death of a loved one due to a preventable accident can be not only devastating but also expensive.
Every state in the United States has some sort of wrongful death statute. If you are the survivor of a wrongfully deceased individual, filing a wrongful death claim may allow you to receive compensation for the death itself and even impose some liability upon the responsible party. This will not bring your loved one back, but it may help with the stress of dealing with the financial burden.
WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Wrongful death happens when somebody is killed because of another person or entity’s negligence or misconduct. Generally, wrongful death lawsuits can be filed by a party if the death in question was caused by the wrongful act, carelessness, unskillfulness, neglect, or default of another person, corporation, or organization involved in the incident.
Wrongful death claims are typically brought against a defendant who has caused someone’s death. Wrongful death claims allow the estate and/or those close to a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death. Though each state’s wrongful death laws vary, these kinds of lawsuits are usually filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate, often on behalf of surviving family members affected by the death.
In 2021, every state permits some sort of wrongful death action in the civil context. Typically, every jurisdiction has its own wrongful death statute with individualized criteria and procedure for bringing a lawsuit. These specifics vary by state, but many statutes share similarities. If you have lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, you may be entitled to legal compensation for the wrongful death of your family member. Thus, it may be beneficial to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to evaluate the standing of your legal claim.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY LOVED ONE WAS KILLED IN A WRONGFUL DEATH ACCIDENT?
If your loved one was killed in a wrongful death incident, you may be considering your legal options. While there are many options available to survivors of wrongfully deceased individuals, many begin with the same critical steps. A few things that you should do immediately after the wrongful death of a family member in an accident include the following:
1. Report the Accident
In most instances, incidents resulting in death will inevitably lead to police involvement. It is imperative that you ensure that the authorities create an accurate police report of the accident’s causes and proceedings. If you later wish to resort to legal avenues of redress, this report may play an important role in the court’s decision.
2. Document the Details
In addition to obtaining a copy of the police report, you should also document every detail of the accident. As time passes, many witness statements or opinions may be lost. Thus, it may be beneficial to obtain witness information and recollections immediately after finding out about the accident.
3. Identify the Responsible Party
There are many ways to determine liability in a wrongful death incident; however, identifying the responsible party is imperative to seeking damages. If you are a surviving family member of an individual killed in an accident, you should do your best to pinpoint the responsible party as quickly as possible. Without this determination, you may not be able to bring a claim in court because this liability allocation is essential to a wrongful death claim.
4. Gather All Members of the Lawsuit
Depending on your jurisdiction, many different types of family members may bring a wrongful death claim. If you are planning to initiate a lawsuit, it may be beneficial to locate other individuals who may also have a personal stake in the claim. Your claim may be strengthened by this strong show of solidarity.
5. Speak with a Professional
The laws surrounding wrongful death claims can be very complex in nature. Due to the complexity of these claims, it may be helpful to obtain a professional opinion about your particular claim before proceeding further into the litigation process.
Wrongful death claims can be emotionally taxing for plaintiffs. Reviewing the facts repeatedly for investigators, insurance agents, and others can be very stressful. Some may find that they are haunted by never-ending thoughts, like “Someone died in an accident with me” or “What if it had been me?”
Not only are many plaintiffs still recovering from the loss of their loved one, but many others are simply unsure of how to proceed with a wrongful death claim in court. While the aforementioned list of steps may be helpful, you may have to do other things to seek the appropriate compensation. Thus, it may be beneficial to contact a wrongful death attorney to help you establish causation and liability. By retaining an attorney, you may be able to help your claim proceed more quickly through the courts.
WHO CAN BRING A WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT IN COURT?
Although every state has some sort of wrongful death statute, the specifics of those statutes differ based on the jurisdiction. A wrongful death claim is usually filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased victim, on behalf of survivors who had a relationship with the victim. Exactly who those survivors can be varies from state to state.
In all states, a spouse may bring a wrongful death action on behalf of his or her deceased spouse. Parents of minors may also bring a wrongful death action if one of their children is killed. Minors can also usually collect compensation over the death of a parent. Unfortunately, this is where state similarities end. Many states disagree on who can bring wrongful death suits beyond those in traditionally recognized relationships. Many states disagree on the following issues:
- Whether parents of adult children can sue
- Whether adult children can sue for their parents
- Whether grown siblings can sue
- Whether a romantic partner, unmarried, can sue
- Whether the financially dependent can sue
- Whether extended relatives can sue, like cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents
Usually, the more distant a familial relationship is, the harder it will be to get a legal remedy through a wrongful death case. Different jurisdictions vary widely on this question. While you may be eligible to sue in one jurisdiction, you may not be able to in another. Many of these questions can be answered through common law principles, as well as basic statutory ones. If you lost a loved one in a wrongful death incident, you should contact a local attorney to help you weed through your particular jurisdiction’s laws and rulings.
ELEMENTS OF A NEGLIGENCE-BASED WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
Liability in a wrongful death claim is usually governed by the law of negligence. Many state statutes are modeled after the traditional requirements for negligence theories. A court may determine that a person acted negligently if he or she behaved in a thoughtless or careless manner and caused injury to another person.
While a negligence-based analysis may look different depending on the specifics of your loved one’s accident, the underlying principles are usually relatively similar. Any individual who fails to exercise reasonable care may be held liable under the legal theory of negligence. The specific requirements for a negligent claim may depend on the rules of your particular jurisdiction. However, many states use similar frameworks. Most commonly, negligence statutes require that a plaintiff prove four elements.
In wrongful death claims, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff or the deceased. This duty may be imposed in many different ways, including by the law itself. A relationship between the defendant and the deceased, including legal and professional ones, can also impose a duty to act reasonably.
Breach of Duty
After a plaintiff establishes that the defendant had a duty, they must then show that the defendant breached that duty. A plaintiff may show this breach by proving that the defendant was not acting reasonably at the time of the accident. In determining if the defendant was careful, a court may compare the defendant’s conduct to that of a reasonable person in a similar situation.
Third, the plaintiff must show that they incurred a loss. Proving loss after being injured in an accident is not always easy; proving personal loss after a wrongful death is usually easier. In wrongful death cases, this element can usually be satisfied by presenting your loved one’s death certificate to the court. Thus, it is imperative that plaintiffs wishing to pursue compensation keep ahold of these important death-related documents. If you are unable to prove that your loved one died, you may not be able to recover.
Lastly, the plaintiff must show that their injuries were caused by the defendant’s conduct. Causation may be difficult to prove in some cases, especially if there were multiple actors or factors involved in the accident. If you cannot prove that the defendant’s negligence or actions caused your loved one’s death, you may not be able to recover anything at all.
Depending on your jurisdiction, your court may require additional or different elements for negligence-based lawsuits. However, courts generally look to the four aforementioned factors when evaluating negligence claims. Satisfying all four elements of a negligence suit may be difficult depending on the specifics of your loved one’s accident. Thus, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney to evaluate your claim and its legal standing.
ZINDA LAW GROUP CAN HELP
Wrongful death claims can be complex legal matters. Not only can these cases be time-consuming, but also exhausting for plaintiffs and family members alike. If you are a surviving family member of a victim of a wrongful death incident, you should contact a lawyer who handles wrongful death lawsuits as soon as possible. A group of wrongful death lawyers may be able to help you evaluate your options, assess your legal standing, and pursue compensation for your losses.
At Zinda Law Group, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible. Zinda Law Group may be able to provide you with personalized and quality consultation about the specifics of your legal claim. The sooner you contact our office, the better we may be able to serve you.
If your loved one died in a wrongful death incident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.