There are few things in life more painful than the unexpected death of a loved one. Sometimes that pain is even greater when it is believed that the loved one should not have died, especially if they are only gone because of someone else’s negligence. Quite often, recovering some of your losses requires filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Before filing a wrongful death claim, it is important to make sure you are prepared to bring the claim in a timely manner, that all responsible parties can be identified and that all proper damages can be claimed. In order to do that, there are several steps to take before filing your claim.
First, Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
You shouldn’t try to do this alone. The attorney you hire should be highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable about the ins and outs of a wrongful death case. Because this person will guide you through the entire process, make sure this attorney is capable of compassion and is able to focus on getting you the recovery you and your family deserve.
Appoint a Personal Representative and Collect Relevant Documents
Usually, if the decedent has a will, the personal representative named in that will should be appointed. If there is no will, normally the personal representative will be the decedent’s spouse. If there is no spouse, the heirs will choose and, if there are no heirs, then the probate judge will approve one. The personal representative will collect all essential documents including medical records, employment records and any other records that are relevant to the case that you may be filing, especially those that are protected by privacy laws.
One very important type of document that the personal representative needs to collect are any incident reports, especially those that deal with the accident that caused the wrongful death. For example, if the accident happened at work, you’ll need all of the various forms and reports that were filled out by the employer. If the wrongful death was caused by a car accident, they should collect the police report for the accident.
Get a Copy of the Death Certificate
The personal representative will also need to obtain a copy of the decedent’s death certificate, which will show the initial finding about the cause of death, which makes it vital to your case.
Investigate the Accident Thoroughly
Along with your highly skilled and extremely knowledgeable attorney, a thorough investigation of all circumstances surrounding the accident that led to the wrongful death will have to be undertaken. That means hiring experienced investigators and experts in whichever field is necessary to help you prove that the negligent party or parties responsible for the wrongful death. This means looking at all of the paperwork, taking a large number of pictures of the area where the accident occurred and speaking to everyone possible who may have information about the accident.
Compile Documentation to Determine All Damages and the Value of the Case
This means putting everything together they can possibly prove your losses and damages, so that your attorney can ask for the proper amount of compensation to make you whole. This can include proof of all of the following:
- Funeral Bills
- Medical Bills
- Any check stubs and other financial information that can prove a loss of earnings on the part of the decedent from the date of the injury until the date of the wrongful death.
- Again, any check stubs and any other information that can demonstrate a loss of future income, meaning the money the victim of the wrongful death would have learned had they lived a normal life.
- Information showing a loss of support and services, including information regarding financial support and even household tasks the decedent normally provided and would’ve continued to provide had they not died tragically and prematurely.
- Information showing the loss of companionship suffered by a spouse and the decedent’s children, as well as the emotional pain and suffering due to the emotional loss of a loved one suffered by the survivors.
Anytime someone dies unexpectedly or prematurely due to someone else’s negligence, that is a wrongful death and, if you are a qualified survivor, you are entitled to compensation for your losses. There are statutes of limitations in place, so procrastination is not an option. In order to get you through this very difficult time, you need to hire a very skilled wrongful death attorney, such as those at the Liggett Law Group, to assist you through every step of the case and to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to under the law. As always, all consultations are free and you will not be charged anything until we win your case.