Eligibility Criteria for Filing a Lawsuit For a Wrongful Death Claim
Relationship to the Deceased
When it comes to filing a wrongful death claim, not everyone is eligible to do so. The law typically restricts this right to immediate family members, such as spouses, children, and sometimes parents. In some cases, other dependents financially reliant on the deceased may also have standing to sue. This is to ensure that those who were most directly affected by the loss have the opportunity to seek compensation. It's a way of recognizing death's profound impact on the closest relatives, both emotionally and financially and providing a legal avenue for redress.
Proof of Negligence or Intent
Central to a wrongful death claim is the requirement to prove that the defendant's negligence or intentional harm resulted in the death. This involves demonstrating that the defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased, breached that duty, and that the breach directly caused the death. For example, in the case of a fatal car accident, it must be shown that the driver at fault violated traffic laws or acted recklessly, leading to the collision. In instances of intentional harm, it must be proven that the defendant's deliberate actions were the cause of death. Without establishing these elements, a wrongful death claim cannot succeed.
Steps in Filing the Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The process of filing a wrongful death claim begins with preparing a legal complaint, which outlines the basis of the claim and the damages sought. This document is filed with the court and served upon the defendant, who then has the opportunity to respond. In the discovery phase, both parties exchange evidence and take depositions to build their respective cases.
Throughout this process, there may be opportunities for mediation or settlement discussions. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case proceeds to trial, where a judge or jury will hear the evidence and render a verdict. Each step is critical and requires careful attention to detail and adherence to legal procedures.
Settlements and Trial Outcomes For Wrongful Death Cases
Many wrongful death lawsuits are resolved through settlements before reaching trial. A settlement is an agreement between the parties to resolve the case for an agreed-upon amount of compensation. This can provide a quicker resolution and certainty for the family, avoiding the unpredictability of a trial.
However, if a fair settlement cannot be negotiated, the case will go to trial, where the outcome will be decided based on the evidence presented. Trials can be lengthy and emotionally taxing, but they also offer the possibility of a more substantial award. Whether through settlement or trial, the goal is to achieve a just outcome that honors the memory of the deceased and provides for their loved ones.
Contact Our Attorneys at Fulmer Sill
If you or someone you know is grappling with losing a loved one due to another's negligence or intentional act, Fulmer Sill is here to help. Our compassionate and experienced attorneys understand the complexities of wrongful death claims and are dedicated to seeking the justice and compensation you deserve. (405) 433-7414