If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was not their fault, you may be wondering what to do next. The process of seeking compensation after a wrongful death can be complicated and long, taking anywhere from one to two years usually, but it is possible with the help of a lawyer. Here are the steps that need to be taken to pursue justice for your loved one.
Hire a Lawyer
The most crucial step in this process is hiring a lawyer. It’s recommended you hire someone who specializes as a wrongful death attorney to get the best outcome for your settlement. Without any legal representation at all, you may not be able to get proper compensation for your loved one or receive it in a timely fashion. You will also need someone on your side to ensure that you receive the total amount of money you’re really owed. This is because the other party’s lawyers will attempt to get your case dismissed, which could mean losing your right to compensation altogether. The lawyer will explain how this process works and what you can expect so that you do not end up confused or frustrated by anything that occurs.
File a Lawsuit
The first step in the process is to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased person’s family must file this suit against the negligent party. Depending on your state, there may be a limit on how long you have to file after the accident occurs, so you mustn’t wait too long. In some states, the time limit is as little as six months. While it may be difficult to even think about filing a lawsuit after suffering such a loss, you must remember that your loved one would not want you to suffer financially because of their death.
After filing the lawsuit, there will be a discovery phase, when you have to answer questions about the accident and your loved one. This may include where you were at the time of the accident, what happened leading up to it, etc. You will also need papers that prove that your loved one lived, such as birth certificates or social security benefits paperwork. The lawsuit should also include information about your loved one’s character and any awards they received, such as military medals.
Once the discovery phase is complete, there will be a settlement to determine what money needs to go where. This should not be done without the help of a lawyer; otherwise, you may not receive an adequate amount of compensation. The settlement depends on several factors, such as your loved one’s life expectancy and medical bills. This is why it is important to include any medical expenses incurred after the accident since they would have been incurred regardless of whether the accident had occurred or not. Once your settlement is reached, it must be finalized by a judge who will ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to.
The death of a family member or loved one is always challenging to deal with, but it is even more so if they die because of acts of negligence. However, this does not mean that you cannot get compensation for their loss. With the help of a lawyer, filing a wrongful death lawsuit and pursuing all possible avenues for getting justice can be much more accessible and possible than if you were to attempt doing so on your own.
Author information: Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.