Understanding the Wrongful Death Settlement Process
Losing a loved one is always hard, even under the “best” circumstances, such as a natural death after a long lifespan. Losing a loved one to a tragic accident is even harder. You feel that your loved one was taken too soon, and you feel a sense of injustice that it happened because of another’s negligence.
Working with a personal injury attorney in Mesa can help you get the justice you demand. That may not involve criminal charges – that would require a public prosecutor to make happen – but it will involve making the guilty party pay what’s fair. Here’s a closer look at what the process is like to get a settlement in a wrongful death suit:
Types of Claims
A wrongful death claim can be made in just about any scenario in which someone dies because of the negligence or intentional action of another person. A wrongful death claim is a civil action, not a criminal one, and it can include cases such as:
- Car accidents (as well as trucks, motorcycles, RVs, and other vehicles)
- Workplace injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Defective products
- Medical malpractice
- Elder abuse
Whatever type of case it is, you have to be able to show that the injury was caused by someone else’s actions (or lack of action). For example, your loved one may die in surgery, but that doesn’t mean that you have a wrongful death suit. You have to show that the surgeon made an error, and that can be very hard to do. An experienced Mesa personal injury attorney will help you determine if you have a case and will find the right evidence to prove your claim.
What Damages Can You Seek?
Damages are monetary compensation. In most personal injury cases, you have to show tangible monetary losses. In some cases, the court may award you damages for emotional distress, but that is not the norm.
Typically, the court would award you damages for things like:
- Loss of financial support from your loved one
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of wages
With wrongful death cases, you are more likely to be awarded damages for mental pain and suffering or loss of companionship. These things are harder to quantify, so it is essential that you work with an experienced wrongful death attorney who knows how to build a strong case to prove what you deserve.
Who Can Claim Damages?
Not just anyone who’s related to the person who died can claim damages in a wrongful death suit. Typically, only the “personal representative” can sue. That would be the person identified as the person’s primary beneficiary in their will or other estate planning document. Often, that would be the person’s spouse or children.
However, if no such document exists, and there is no other primary family, you may have a claim. It’s worth checking in with a wrongful death attorney to find out your rights.
Settling the Claim
Settling your wrongful death claim will either involve negotiating with the insurance company or other responsible party or taking the case to court. In either scenario, having a dedicated, experienced wrongful death attorney on your side will improve your chances of getting the best settlement possible.
If you do win a settlement, you have the option of having it paid out in one lump sum or in payments over time. A structured settlement may be awarded in cases where the amount is very high and having to pay it out at once could bankrupt the company (and result in nothing for you).
A wrongful death suit involves a number of complex factors, and it can seem overwhelming and confusing. Don’t let lack of information keep you from getting the settlement you and your family deserve. Find the best Mesa wrongful death attorney you can to guide you through the process and represent your interests.
Mesa Injury Lawyers have been representing clients for many years involving cases like car accidents, dog bites, slips and falls, medical malpractice, product liability, and more. We represent clients who have been injured themselves, as well as clients who have lost a loved one because of another’s negligence. We are dedicated to helping our clients get the highest settlement possible to protect your family and give you some measure of justice. Call us in Mesa today to talk with a wrongful death attorney about your rights and your legal options.