Investigating the Death of a Loved One
The facts involved in wrongful death cases often encounter ambiguity. People may provide conflicting accounts of what transpired. This can occur due to genuine confusion or misunderstandings. However, it can also happen when individuals or entities responsible attempt to cover up or shift blame to avoid accountability. A wrongful death attorney can investigate to uncover what truly happened.
For instance, in 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 33,654 fatal motor vehicle accidents. If your loved one died in a car accident, an attorney can review police reports and statements from eyewitnesses or anyone in the car with your relative during the collision. An attorney might discover that nearby surveillance cameras recorded the crash or moments before or after it. Such footage can provide crucial evidence that another driver violated traffic laws or acted recklessly. This information can be vital in building a wrongful death case.
Another common wrongful death claim can arise if your family member died due to medical malpractice. For example, Johns Hopkins University found that one in ten deaths is due to medical errors.
An attorney can review medical records and enlist one or more experts to determine if the doctor treating your relative met the standard of care. If the investigation reveals that the doctor made an inaccurate diagnosis, prescribed inappropriate medication for your family member’s condition, was aware of allergies, or made mistakes during surgery, it could help the legal team establish a medical malpractice claim. Such evidence can also support a claim against the hospital where your family member received treatment.
Explaining Your Legal Rights
Laws pertaining to wrongful death lawsuits vary from state to state. Depending on your place of residence, you may not qualify to file a compensation claim. Some states restrict the right to file a lawsuit to immediate family members, while others allow distant relatives – and even non-relatives – to file wrongful death claims in certain circumstances. In other states, family members may not have the right to sue; instead, only the representative of the deceased person’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. If they receive a financial award, this representative distributes the money to eligible relatives.
States also differ in terms of statutes of limitations (the time limit within which plaintiffs must file a lawsuit). This timeframe can be one year or longer, depending on your place of residence. Missing the deadline to file a lawsuit can result in forfeiting your right to sue, even if you have a valid claim. In some situations, the statute of limitations can be extended. A wrongful death attorney familiar with your state’s laws can explain what you need to know.
Seeking Financial Compensation
A wrongful death attorney possesses the expertise to pursue compensation that covers various losses, including economic and non-economic ones. These awards are designed to alleviate the financial and emotional burdens resulting from the tragic loss of a family member.
Economic losses, a fundamental component of sought-after compensation, encompass measurable expenses stemming from wrongful death. These may include costs related to medical care and treatment your family member received in the lead-up to their passing. Such financial burdens can be substantial, covering hospital bills, doctor’s fees, medication costs, and various other expensive medical expenses.
Moreover, economic losses extend to the financial obligations associated with arranging your family member’s funeral and burial. These expenses can often be burdensome, encompassing the costs of a casket, memorial service, cemetery plot, and other related funeral expenses that are far from inexpensive.
Another essential aspect of economic losses is the income loss that your family member would have contributed to the household or family’s financial stability if they had not experienced wrongful death. This calculation takes into account various factors, such as their earning capacity, potential for career advancement, and future income prospects. This aspect of compensation recognizes the profound economic impact of the tragic loss of a loved one, ensuring that the family’s financial well-being is not further disrupted by this tragedy.
Non-economic losses, often referred to as intangible or non-financial losses, present a unique set of challenges when it comes to quantification. These losses encompass a spectrum of highly personal and emotional aspects that cannot be easily equated to monetary value. Nevertheless, these elements are of utmost importance and deserve recognition in the context of wrongful death claims. Here, we explore various dimensions of non-economic losses:
Pain and Suffering
The pain and suffering experienced by individuals before their death cannot be financially measured. This includes physical discomfort, anguish, and distress endured during illness, injury, or accidents that ultimately lead to death. This aspect underscores the human suffering and serves as a sharp reminder of the magnitude of the loss caused by an untimely death.
Loss of Love, Support, Companionship, and Affection
Perhaps the most emotionally impactful non-economic loss, this category encompasses intangible yet invaluable bonds shared within a family. It signifies the void left by the absence of a loved one who has passed away, transcending the practical aspects of their role within the family. It includes the loss of trust, friendship, mentorship, and unwavering emotional support. The absence of love, companionship, and affection can emotionally debilitate surviving family members.
Incidents of wrongful death inflict deep emotional strain on surviving family members. This distress manifests in various forms, including grief, sorrow, anger, anxiety, and depression. It disrupts the emotional well-being and stability of those left behind, leaving scars that may never fully heal throughout their lives. Overcoming the trauma of losing a loved one under such circumstances is a process fraught with emotional challenges and often requires professional assistance and support.
Read Also: Benefits of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Quantifying these non-economic losses is a complex endeavor as they cannot be measured using traditional financial metrics. Courts and legal systems often grapple with how to provide fair and just compensation for these intangible losses. Testimonies from experts, psychological evaluations, and the empathetic understanding of juries are crucial in efforts to convey the profound impact of these losses to those responsible for determining compensation.
In summary, non-economic losses encompass countless dimensions of humanity resulting from wrongful deaths. They remind us that the impact of such tragedies is not solely a matter of financial consideration but also highlights the emotional and psychological toll endured by the family members left behind. While quantifying these losses is a challenge, acknowledging their significance is crucial in the pursuit of justice and resolution for those who have suffered immeasurable losses.