Key Facts to Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits and Claims

by Sharon Jones 

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A case of wrongful death can be heavily emotional. For the loved ones of the victim, finding answers to what happened can take time, not to mention the tears and stress involved as facts begin to pile up.

To file a wrongful death lawsuit, preparation is very important. You have to consider the coroner's report, witnesses' statements, the evidence available, and a good lawyer. If you think you need a wrongful death lawyer in Los Angeles, check below for some essential facts and tips.

Filing a Lawsuit

Wrongful death can be filed when someone dies due to another's negligence or misconduct. The claim can be done if the death was caused by another person's legal fault. Although state laws may vary with the pertinent provisions for a wrongful death claim, states generally allow for recovery by the victim's survivors, i.e., spouse, children and immediate family members.

A personal representative of the victim’s estate files the lawsuit. The pain and suffering brought by events prior to the victim or "decedent's" death can also be included in the claim.

 

Proving Wrongful Death and Seeking Damages

For a successful case, the plaintiff must show relevant facts, plus the consequences of the passing of the decedent. The plaintiff must present the following:

  • the death of a person

  • how the death was caused by a negligent act or an intent to cause harm

  • how the decedent's survivors, now under financial injury, will survive

  • a personal representative appointed for the decedent's estate

Damages sought under a wrongful death lawsuit are based largely on the financial or pecuniary injury. This includes loss of support and services, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and even losing a potential inheritance due to death. The award for damages also includes interest starting from the decedent's date of death.

Finding the Right Lawyer

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Choosing a very qualified lawyer to represent your case in court is crucial. You must examine three important criteria.

First, look into the lawyer's qualifications and experience in handling similar cases. Education, bar membership and related certifications are standard. The lawyer must also be abreast with specific laws covered by the accident, e.g., road accidents covered by transportation and traffic laws.

Second, ask how committed the lawyer will be on your case. Avoid a lawyer who is busy with other cases. He or she may not find enough time for your case.

Lastly, check if the lawyer is reputable or has good reviews. Online reviews of the firm he or she works with, as well as personal reviews, are good sources for assessing reputation. If you happen to know some people who previously worked with the lawyer, care to interview these previous clients and ask how their cases were handled.

Online research does help considerably when picking a lawyer who possesses a demonstrated expertise in handling wrongful death cases. Dig deep in bar associations' websites as well as law firms these lawyers work for. If your research does not produce desired results, it may be best to ask for referrals from people you know. With their input, you can already be assured of a reliable lawyer.