Losing a loved one is tragic. However, if one of your family members dies due to someone’s negligence, for instance, medical malpractice, car accidents, workplace accidents, or defective product, the loss can further cause emotional turmoil and traumatic setback to you and your family.
If you think that’s the case, you can pursue legal actions, to hold the parties involved accountable for what happened. You can file a wrongful death claim to seek justice and pursue compensation for your loss.
Death caused by negligence can be a complex legal matter. However, seeking professional advice can not only help you understand the entire legal process but can also help you prepare all of the necessary documents and evidence required to build a case.
To help you start with the process, here are a few things you should know about death caused by negligence.
1. You Can File A Claim Up To Two Years From The Time Of Death
The family of the deceased has two years to file a claim from their loved one’s time of death. However, not all states have the same time limit.
For instance, in Ontario, Canada, the statute of limitation has several exceptions. The time restriction may be shorter when you bring a claim against a municipality or public entity. In this situation, you may only have 10 days to file a claim from the date of the accident.
With that said, check your local laws to ensure you’re filing within the appropriate time frame.
In addition, when filing a claim, you’ll need to provide some documents to support your case. These documents include:
- Autopsy reports and medical records
- Police report
- Death certificate
- Financial record
2. You Must Prove Negligence Before You Can Seek Compensation
Proving the negligence of the involved party can be one of the most difficult parts when pursuing a wrongful death suit. You must have sufficient information to support your claim. To be successful, your lawyer must be able to establish these elements when filing a negligence claim:
This element pertains to the liable party’s legal responsibility of protecting the deceased. For example, if the liable party is a driver, they must keep their passenger safe. If they didn’t fulfill their obligation, you can consider it as proof of negligence.
This element means that the liable party has breached or failed their obligation to keep the deceased safe from harm. For instance, a doctor is considered to have breached their duty of care, if they fail to provide their patient a proper diagnosis or recommend the appropriate treatment.
This element explains how the negligent behavior or act of the liable party has caused the loss. This element can be difficult to prove. So, to build a solid case, it’s crucial to have actual proof that can show how the defendant’s action, or lack thereof, had hurt the deceased.
This element addresses the concern of monetary compensation needed to cover the loss and damages caused by the liable party’s negligence. These damages are often of financial aspect- medical care bills, loss of wage, and more, but they can also be physical and emotional.
3. There Are Different Types Of Wrongful Death Compensation
A successful wrongful death case will grant you compensation for your loss. The types of compensation you may be eligible for vary depending on the circumstances of your loss.
If there’s any medical or hospital bill before your loved one dies, you can ask for reimbursement for these expenses. This will cover all the treatments and tests related to the injuries of the deceased.
If the deceased is the breadwinner of the family, you can ask for lost wages. This wage includes money they could have earned up until the time of their death.
An unexpected funeral could be expensive for most families. The liable party can compensate you for the funeral expenses including, burial and memorial service.
You can ask for punitive damages if you have a case proving that your loved one suffered before they died. It’d be good to take note that this differs from other compensation that’s only intended for reimbursement. This damage is considered as additional compensation.
Losing your spouse can cause emotional damage. The negligent party can be chargeable for causing emotional distress to you and your family. This will compensate you for the loss of your spouse’s love and companionship.
4. The Defendant May Offer A Settlement
During the legal process, the liable party may offer you a settlement to make things easier. You deserve justice and compensation for your loss, but it’s up to you whether or not to accept the settlement offer. Your legal advisor can help you weigh the pros and cons of an out-of-court settlement.
While most wrongful death cases go to trial, it’d be important to note that it doesn’t guarantee you a win. For instance, if you weren’t able to provide sufficient evidence to the court, you can lose your chance of getting compensated.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be emotionally and financially disastrous. The legal proceedings can be a painful matter to endure, especially for a grieving family. However, you deserve justice for your loss, especially if it’s due to someone else’s wrongdoing and negligence.
With that said, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer, who can give you insights on how to best proceed with your case.