Few things are more distressing than the loss of a loved one. When a death is unexpected, surviving loved ones can have an even harder time navigating the grieving process. In some cases, death is the result of negligence on the part of another party. In those instances, family members have the right to seek compensation for their loss.
Unfortunately, the process of filing a wrongful death action begins at a time when loved ones are still struggling to come to terms with an unexpected tragedy. It is not uncommon for surviving family members to feel absolutely overwhelmed by all of the tasks that need to be completed in the aftermath of such a loss.
To begin, grief will color everything else for a period of time. This is a natural occurrence, but it can make it hard to get through the long list of to-do items that follow a loss.
If the deceased provided a significant portion of the family’s income, surviving loved ones often find themselves in an immediate financial bind. If the deceased family member provided the bulk of child care or household support for the family, that loss is also challenging to address.
What Should I do if I Suspect my Loved One’s Death was Caused by Negligence?
The aftermath of a loss is filled with conflicting emotions, and a certain degree of brain fog is also completely normal. When it comes to wrongful death, things aren’t always as black and white as you might imagine.
If you suspect that your loss was the result of negligence on the part of another party, don’t feel awkward or guilt about pursuing answers. You and your family deserve to know the circumstances that led to your loss, including gaining an understanding of how the choices of others factored into the death.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a legal term used to describe circumstances in which an individual dies as a result of misconduct or negligence on the part of another party. There are many examples where a death could be considered a wrongful death.
Medical malpractice is one example. This occurs when the actions of a doctor or medical team leads to a loss of life that could have been otherwise prevented. Workplace deaths are also commonly classified as wrongful deaths. If your loved one lost his or her life while on the job, and there is any question that decisions or actions made on the part of the employer played a causal role in your loss, it is worth investigating.
Automobile accidents and even aviation accidents can be considered wrongful death cases if there are elements of negligence at play. Criminal behavior is another example of a situation where choices made by others led to a tragic and preventable loss of life.
What are the Elements of a Wrongful Death Case?
Every wrongful death legal action shares certain components. Those elements include:
- The death of one or more individuals
- Death brought on by intent to harm or negligence
- Surviving family members who are negatively impacted by the loss of their loved one
- Appointment of a representative for the estate of the decedent, or deceased person
While all wrongful death cases share these elements, the details of each case will differ, depending on the circumstances and facts surrounding the loss of life.
Why Pursue a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To be clear: there is no legal action that could ever truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit can bring financial stability to grieving loved ones, but it cannot bring a beloved mother, father, sister, brother, or child back.
What a wrongful death lawsuit can accomplish is to give surviving family members a sense that some form of justice was delivered. In many cases, simply having the other party acknowledge the role their actions played in the loss (or having a jury determine the same) can bring healing.
While there is no price that can be placed on a human life, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide a degree of financial security to the loved ones left behind. That can make a world of difference in cases where the deceased was the primary breadwinner for the family. If the deceased was the person responsible for the lion’s share of child care and household management, those losses also need to be addressed, which can be costly.
How do I Know Where to Begin with a Wrongful Death Case?
Moving forward with a wrongful death lawsuit can seem like an intimidating prospect. For most families, wrongful death is an area of legal practice they have no familiarity with.
Finding a good attorney to represent your interests is a great place to begin. Take the time to research some local law firms to find attorneys who specialize in wrongful death. Set up times to sit down with prospective lawyers and learn more about how they approach these cases.
Working with a skilled wrongful death attorney empowers loved ones to begin the process of getting the answers they need and the compensation they deserve. It also removes the burden of pursuing the matter, which gives surviving loved ones the time and space needed to move forward in the grieving process.
The aftermath of an unexpected loss is a stressful time. Phycologists rank this experience as one of the most distressing events an individual can live through. Securing solid legal representation allows you to begin the process of obtaining some degree of justice, while enabling you to care for yourself and the rest of your family.
If you have questions or concerns about wrongful death and the details of your specific circumstances, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance. Be prepared to share some of the details of your loss, and to take notes on the information you receive. While these are certainly dark days, moving forward is the best way to shape and structure your new reality. A great attorney acts as a trusted advisor as you begin the process.