Wrongful Death in the Family – A Guide to Getting Help
Unfortunately, every year, there are over 90,000 wrongful deaths due to medical malpractice. If you factor in other causes, then there’s significantly more that occur yearly.
You hope it’ll never happen to you, but there may come a time when tragedy strikes a loved one. And if someone’s responsible for it, you’ll want to get justice; not just for your family member, but for you and the loved ones they left behind too.
Here’s what to do if there’s a wrongful death in your family.
Get Support From Friends and Family
First, you need to take care of yourself. After all, if you’re running on empty, you won’t have enough strength and energy to fight for your deceased loved one.
It can be a confusing and devastating time, and you might feel alone and lost at times. So surround yourself with friends and family. Together, you can form a strong support network and get through this trying time.
There’s also a chance that these people have experience with wrongful deaths. In that case, you can get some advice and guidance from them on what to do next. Having their support can make you feel more confident about pursuing legal action.
The death of a family member can already take a huge toll on you. Factor in a party at fault, and your emotions are guaranteed to be overwhelming.
Seeking counseling can be a good idea, especially if you’ve never had to deal with death before. Getting guidance through this dark period can help you come out stronger, and you’ll have effective tools to deal with death in the future. You’ll also be more level-headed, making it easier to handle the tough road ahead.
Gather Evidence for Your Claim
If you’ve decided to go ahead with a wrongful death claim, then you’ll want to ensure it’s as strong as possible. To do this, you’ll need to gather evidence. It can be challenging and lots of hard work, but it’ll be worth it if you can prove your loved one’s death was caused by negligence or an intentional act.
There are the key things you should get:
- Photos, videos, and other media or physical evidence
- Your family member’s medical records and reports
- Police reports and their findings
- Documentation of financial losses resulting from the death
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
You already have grief and other emotions draining you, and trying to make sense of the law can be too much. You should focus on mourning and keeping the memory of your loved one alive, not on complicated laws for wrongful deaths.
Now that you’ve gathered evidence, the next step is to hire a wrongful death attorney, as in the state of California, you have the right to sue for damages. You can give your documents to wrongful death attorneys working out of Walnut Creek, and they’ll get things moving in the right direction within the statute of limitations. As a result, a huge burden’s lifted off your chest when justice is served.
These experts will have a deep understanding of the laws and procedures, and can conduct thorough investigations to build a strong case. A reputable lawyer will also provide additional emotional support, which can be a blessing if you don’t have anyone else.
File a Wrongful Death Claim
With the assistance of an attorney, you can file a wrongful death claim. There are several steps involved, so having an experienced professional by your side can make all the difference.
First, you need to determine if you’re even eligible to file a claim. Typically, only close family members can do so, such as spouses, siblings, or parents.
If you’re eligible, then you need to file the actual claim. This document should show all the details surrounding the case and what damages you’re seeking. Your attorney can assist here by using concise and correct language.
Once the claim’s served to the other party or their legal representative, you enter the discovery phase. Both sides will present evidence supporting their claims in court. This can involve depositions and interrogatories, as well as requests for documents.
Negotiate a Settlement
It’s common for wrongful death claims to resolve with a settlement. This is when the responsible party agrees to your terms so you won’t have to go to trial. It’s a win-win situation since it saves everyone time, effort, and money.
The important part is that the responsible party acknowledges that they were liable for your loved one’s death. That alone can be a huge relief.
Also, they’ll compensate you for your family member’s expenses. This can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
Take the Case to Trial if Necessary
Sadly, not all wrongful death cases end with a settlement. If your attorney feels that the settlement isn’t enough to compensate your loss, then they’ll advise you to take the case to trial.
Like with the discovery process, both sides will present relevant evidence and witness testimonies to support their claims. But in the trial, the attorneys can cross-examine the witnesses too. They can also dispute the evidence from the other side.
After the trial’s closing statements, the jury will deliberate on the outcome. When they return to the court, they’ll deliver their verdict.
If your lawyer’s done their job right, then not only will you win your claim, but you’ll get the maximum compensation possible too.
Get Justice for Your Loved One
A family member’s death is never easy to accept. The process can be made infinitely harder if someone caused their death through their actions or negligence. This is why it’s vital to have a strong support system in place and seek counseling if you’re struggling.
And while it won’t excuse or make up for your loved one’s death, filing a wrongful death claim can ease your burdens a bit. By hiring an experienced and reputable lawyer, you’ll be able to
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