Wrongful death is a legal term describing the death of an individual caused by recklessness or negligence of other people or entities. Usually immediate family members of the deceased victim seek a wrongful death claim or lawsuit to obtain compensation for their emotional and financial damages. This often includes family members such as parents, spouses and children of the deceased victim. Losing a loved one is devastating and comes with many burdens. Wrongful death claims can help rebuild your life in the midst of great tragedy, and many times they can change policies and procedures of companies who cause the death of your loved one. When deciding how to move forward after losing someone to wrongful death, it is important that you determine whether you have a case.
KEY ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH
There are four key elements involved in wrongful death as defined by law. Surviving members submitting a claim or filing a lawsuit must prove each element to win a case for financial recompense. The four key elements of a Wrongful Death claim include:
- NEGLIGENCE: The surviving members or their legal representatives must prove the death of their loved one was caused (in part or in whole) by the recklessness, carelessness, or negligent actions of the defending party.
- BREACH OF DUTY: To be successful in the case, it must be proved that the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit owed a duty to the deceased victim. For example, a motorist maintains a duty to drive safely, and follow and obey every traffic law. Doctors and medical health providers have the duty to maintain a patient’s health. It is up to the plaintiff to establish how the defendant’s duty existed, and that the duty was breached through their negligent actions.
- CAUSATION: In addition to proving how the duty of the defendant was breached toward the deceased, the lawsuit plaintiff must also prove how the defendant’s negligence caused their loved one’s death.
- DAMAGES: The death of the victim must have generated quantifiable damages such as hospitalization, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of income and potential earnings, loss of protection, guidance and inheritance along with pain and suffering of the victim prior to death.
EMOTIONALLY MOVING FORWARD
Losing someone you love is painful. When you lose someone in a tragic accident it can be even more difficult. Oftentimes we aren’t emotionally prepared to deal with such a traumatic ordeal. Once the immediate shock has worn off and the timely decisions have been made, you may begin to feel the numbness wear off and the sorrow and reality set in. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself through a loss:
- RELY ON FRIENDS & FAMILY: People want to help but they often don’t know how. Tell them what you need, even if it is dinner or some time to grieve.
- SEEK HELP: There is no longer any stigma surrounding counseling and it is an effective place for processing grief. Find a counselor or minister that you identify with and open up to exploring your feelings.
- JOIN A SUPPORT GROUP: Support groups exist all over. Locate one near you and check it out. Promise yourself you will go at least three times to give it a fair chance.
- TALK ABOUT YOUR LOVED ONE: One of the most difficult things about loss is feeling that you can’t talk about it. Instead of focusing on the loss, embrace the good memories and stories about your loved one. Retelling stories about your loved one will help keep their memory alive.
- SEEK LEGAL ASSISTANCE: You may have a legal recourse for your loss. However, understand that the law can only provide certain remedies; it can never replace the person you loved. The law can hold a person or company responsible for the death that can help you to heal, and more importantly it can prevent future negligence.
LEGALLY MOVING FORWARD
Losing a loved one is devastating. When it is due to someone else’s negligence or misconduct it can be particularly overwhelming due to decisions that must be made whether to seek legal advice regarding a possible wrongful death action. Due to its complexity, there are several issues that must be considered before determining whether to proceed with a wrongful death action. When speaking with legal counsel, some considerations are:
- WHEATHER THE DEATH OF YOUR LOVED ONE WAS CAUSED BY AN INDIVIDUAL, COMPANY, EMPLOYEE, OR GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY.
- WHEATHER THE DEATH OF YOUR LOVED ONE OCCURRED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF A KNOWN MANUFACTURER'S DEFECT OR PREVENTABLE MEDICAL ERROR.
- WHEATHER THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE INTENDED TO HARM YOUR LOVED ONE.
- WHAT TYPE OF DAMAGES ARE AVAILABLE TO THE SURVIVORS DUE TO PAIN & SUFFERING AND FINANCIAL LOSS.
While these are just a few issues to consider, it is important to understand that a wrongful death action is a very complex area of law. If you and your legal counsel decide there is enough evidence or information to proceed with a wrongful death action, it is their duty to represent you and your family with the ultimate goal of reaching the best possible result for your loved one in hopes of making it easier to move forward.
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH A POTENTIAL WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
The damages that can result from a Wrongful Death can be both physically and emotionally daunting. When you have your future on the line, you cannot afford to put your trust in an inexperienced attorney. Instead, you need to seek the guidance of attorneys who have extensive experience and resources to either reach a favorable settlement or win your case at trial. We have done both on behalf of our clients on numerous occasions. At Fulmer Sill, we are proud to deliver high-quality assistance to all of our clients. Should you choose to seek our legal representation, we are confident that our experience and knowledge will produce a favorable outcome for you. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. We handle all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact Fulmer Sill at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation.