After you lose a family member, the last thing on your mind is filing a lawsuit. However, when you realize that the financial burden is too much, you may wonder about your rights. Each state dictates who can file a lawsuit, how much they can receive, and how those funds are distributed. Therefore, it is best to hire a local attorney and protect your rights.
When a family member dies because of someone’s wrongful acts or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss through a wrongful death case. While no one can place a monetary value on someone’s life, the entire purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to ensure that family members are not left without provision when their loved one is taken from them prematurely.
It is the family’s right to hold the party responsible for taking their loved one away, and they can do so in civil court through a wrongful death action. While you have the right to hold that party responsible, you also carry the burden of proving that the defendant was the cause of your loved one’s death, which is why it is imperative you hire an attorney. Wrongful death claims are highly emotional, legally complex, and they require a third party who is not emotionally tied to the outcome of the case.
Your Rights in a Wrongful Death Claim
You have certain rights when you lose a loved one to someone’s negligence. These include:
The Right to Compensation for Medical Costs
You do have the right to seek compensation for any medical costs after an accident or illness that caused your loved one’s death, including all expenses up to the time they passed away. Even if health insurance paid for these expenses, you can request compensation for them and then pay back your health insurance to free up any used benefits.
If you have outstanding medical debts, you can also request compensation for those in your lawsuit.
The Right to Compensation for Lost Wages or Loss of Earning Capacity
When you lose a loved one that contributes financially to the household, such as a spouse, you can seek compensation for any lost wages while they were trying to recover from their injuries along with lost future wages. The court would consider their age, training, background, and the amount of money they would have earned in a lifetime if they had not passed away.
The Right to Compensation for Loss of Benefits
When a spouse passes away prematurely, family members might be left without access to certain benefits, including pension, retirement, or even health insurance. They can seek compensation for these losses as part of their wrongful death claim.
The Right to Compensation for Burial and Funeral Expenses
The court does allow compensation for burial and funeral costs up to a reasonable amount. Therefore, loved ones do not have to worry about shouldering the burden of these expenses. And if they already have paid for them, they can receive money back as part of their settlement.
The Right to Compensation for Loss of Companionship
In some cases, plaintiffs could receive compensation for loss of companionship or nurture from a parent taken away from minor children.
Your Obligations in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
While you have rights, you also have obligations. These obligations are critical to winning your case, which is why you should consult with a wrongful death attorney.
Just some obligations you have as the plaintiff include:
Proving That the Defendant Was the Cause of Your Loved One’s Death
The most important obligation is the burden of proof. You must show with the preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is the direct cause of your loved one’s death. In a car accident, for example, you would provide evidence showing that the defendant’s recklessness caused the incident. Evidence might include a police accident report, witness statements, expert testimony, accident recreation testimony, and photographs of the scene.
Proving That Your Settlement Request Is Genuine
Likewise, you must show the court that the amount of compensation you’re requesting is reasonable and justified. This includes showing copies of medical expenses out of pocket or those paid by your insurer, payroll statements showing how much your spouse would have contributed, and expert testimony about the pain and suffering the victim experienced after the injury and up until their death (if you are seeking pain and suffering damages).
Do You Need a Lawyer?
While there is no requirement to have an attorney when filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is critical you consult with one.
Wrongful death cases are highly emotional; you are grieving the loss of a loved one. The last thing you should worry about is putting a dollar amount or assigning value to that loss. After all, you were emotionally tied to your family member, and there is no way to look at your case from an objective perspective.
Hiring an attorney means that you do not shoulder the burden of gathering evidence, hiring experts, or negotiating a settlement with the insurance company.
The attorneys at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC, understand what you and your family are going through. We are here to help you through this emotional time by representing your family, your estate, and your future.
We hold parties responsible for their negligent actions that take a life, and we can work as your advocate to ensure your family receives the compensation you deserve. We have helped families just like yours recover the funds they need for medical costs, lost wages, and the pain and suffering from losing a loved one.
To explore your options, contact our team for a free case evaluation by calling us today. You can also request more information about our legal services or your rights in a wrongful death case by contacting us online.