Experiencing a death in the family is a challenging and emotionally charged time for everyone involved. The thought of dragging out the mourning process with a lawsuit is enough to turn many people away from pursuing a wrongful death case. However, death carries costs with it and a change in life circumstances. To ignore a wrongful death or give up due to false information could leave your family in a financial bind forever.
Wrongful death lawsuits are commonly the result of fatalities in car accidents, accidents on private property, and medical malpractice suits. Generally, they all involve a degree of negligence on the person or entity that caused the wrongful death. Therefore, you will need to gather enough evidence to prove that the driver, doctor, or corporation in question acted with gross negligence.
Learn Your State Laws
Before exploring some of the most common myths about wrongful deaths, it is essential to note that each state has its own set of laws and precedents for wrongful death cases. For example, if the death occurred in New York, it is best to get a professional wrongful death attorney in this state. It is not uncommon to get a lawyer from another state, especially from a big, reputable firm, but they will eventually have to collaborate with a local team. We say this because contributory or comparative negligence in wrongful death cases makes a very tangled legal jungle even for local attorneys dealing with such cases every year.
Speaking of state laws, you need an experienced attorney to explain to you the statute of limitations in wrongful death claims in your state. Moreover, another common myth is that only the spouse or the children of the deceased can bring a wrongful death action – which is not true. Therefore, before you do anything else, discuss matters with a lawyer.
3 Common Myths about Wrongful Death Claims and Lawsuits
People do not like to think too hard about mortality, so when presented with information about the process of dying, many people accept it. Unfortunately, this understandable situation has created many myths about wrongful death claims that could damage a family’s ability to be properly compensated or seek justice.
1. An Accident Cannot Be a Wrongful Death
Many people believe that a wrongful death needs to show intent or direct negligence. Fortunately, that is not the case. In any accident where the deceased victim was not at fault, it is possible to enter the realm of wrongful death.
There is usually at least one factor that contributed to the death. For example, in car accidents, the at-fault party may be the other (drunk) driver, the manufacturer of a vehicle part that failed or was faulty, or even the company or municipality tasked with keeping that street clean and safe. You may be able to show that one of those parties acted negligently, contributing to the accident and eventual death.
A good rule of thumb is that any situation where a personal injury lawsuit could stand in court if it instead escalates to death can be eligible for a wrongful death suit. One exception to this rule relates to workplace accidents. In most cases, work-related injuries and deaths are limited to being covered by workers’ compensation laws. There are some exceptions, but usually, those laws protect the employers.
2. You Should Grieve and Then File for Wrongful Death
Being in mourning is difficult, and the last thing people want is more responsibility while making funeral arrangements, settling affairs, and reorganizing their lives. However, it would be best if you did not wait to file a wrongful death claim. Not only is there a legal statute of limitations that will prevent you from claiming after too much time, but you also might lose the chance to gather important evidence.
Do not leave this until you feel ready; a wrongful death suit will reopen any healing wounds from your loss. The best thing you can do is find an attorney who can take care of things and get the ball rolling. Then, once you have more bandwidth for handling the legal side of things, you can step right into an active case.
3. Life Insurance Will Provide for You
Most people have some level of life insurance plan. However, the needs of each person can be widely different, and the truth is that many life insurance plans will not cover the full cost of an unexpected loss.
Even life insurance coverage considering all the funeral costs, may leave out other massive expenses like the medical bills leading up to death. The family will also have to contend with lost income and their pain and suffering that often affects the ability to work or return to their everyday life. You can and should think about combining any life insurance coverage with a wrongful death suit.
Moreover, you have seen enough legal dramas to know that insurance companies don’t quite jump at the first opportunity to pay in full – most of them will deny payment if they decide that the policy does not cover the claim. In some cases, they will do everything to stop the family from cashing in the entire due amount. Some of them will also try to blame the victim.
For this reason and many others, you should speak to an attorney if you lost a loved one and consider you have enough grounds for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit.