Posted in Personal Injury on December 13, 2022
Losing a loved one in death is one of the most difficult experiences any of us will have to endure. However, when another person’s negligence or recklessness caused the death, it’s an even more bitter pill to swallow.
According to the CDC, more than 200,000 Americans lost their lives due to unintentional injuries in 2020. Behind each of these bereavements is a family that will never be the same again. For some, the emotional suffering is compounded by financial challenges as well.
A wrongful death attorney may be able to help you at this crucial time in your life. But what does a wrongful death lawyer do? How can hiring an attorney help you fight for the compensation you need to rebuild your life?
Let’s explore the answers to those questions together.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Every death is a tragedy and brings pain and suffering to others. But a wrongful death is caused by another party’s wrongful act or negligence.
Under Montana State Law, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may take action on behalf of the entire family. This can be a spouse, child, parent or other close relative. They can pursue damages from the negligent party and other responsible parties.
The personal representative is the executor of the deceased person’s estate. If the person was 18 years of age or under, the parents or legal guardians may file the claim. In Montana, wrongful death claims must usually be filed within three years of the death.
Wrongful death cases can be complex. It’s hard to fight alone while also grieving for your loss. That’s why you need wrongful death attorneys on your side to fight for your rights.
The Role of a Wrongful Death Attorney
A wrongful death attorney can build a strong case on your behalf and tenaciously pursue compensation. So let’s examine each step in the journey from the first meeting to the conclusion of the case.
Listens to Your Story
It all starts with a free case evaluation with an accidental death lawyer. During this meeting, you’ll have a chance to explain what happened to your loved one. Bring along any evidence, such as:
- Police reports
- Medical evidence
- Witness statements
This information will help the wrongful death lawyer to understand who may have been at fault. They aim to determine whether your case has a strong chance of succeeding. They can talk you through your legal rights and explain the challenges involved with your case.
They may agree to represent you if they feel you have a strong case. When hiring a lawyer, you may wish to interview more than one. You can also use this opportunity to discuss their fee arrangements.
Identifies the Liable Parties
In some cases, one person’s negligence caused the accident that led to a person’s death. In other cases, multiple parties may bear a measure of responsibility. Let’s take the example of a truck accident.
If a truck is involved in an accident that results in someone’s death, the driver may be found to be liable. However, the trucking company may also bear liability. If the trucking company hires the vehicle from another party, that person or company may also be liable.
Experienced wrongful death attorneys use their knowledge of the law and your case to build a case for liability and make sure all potentially liable parties are held responsible.
Gathers Evidence and Builds a Case
Wrongful death attorneys work with a legal team, including investigators. Their job is to gather as much evidence as possible to prove who was liable for the accident.
To build a strong case, the wrongful death lawyer needs to satisfy the four following legal points:
- The other party/parties had a duty of care to the victim
- The duty of care was breached through the actions or inactions of the at-fault party/parties
- The actions/inactions caused the death of your loved one
- Damages can be awarded to compensate the family for their loss
A wrongful death attorney will build their case around proving these points. They will form the basis of negotiations with the other party/parties’ insurance companies. This can also be used if the case goes to trial.
In addition, the legal team will gather evidence of the economic and non-economic damages you have suffered. Economic damages include:
- Medical expenses before the death of your loved one
- Funeral expenses
- Lost earnings
- Loss of future earnings/business opportunities
They will also gather evidence of non-economic damages. This may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of family life
- Loss of support and intimacy in marriage
The wrongful death attorney will calculate a fair settlement figure based on the losses you have suffered. They will then negotiate with the other parties involved to achieve an acceptable level of compensation.
Goes to Trial
Most of the time, a wrongful death case will not go to trial. Your attorney may file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. However, they will still work with the insurance company to agree on a fair out-of-court settlement on your behalf.
But if it is impossible to negotiate a fair settlement, the wrongful death case will go to court. Your attorney will represent you, presenting evidence to the judge and jury. They will then decide if you should receive compensation and how much.
Of course, there is also the risk that the judge will not rule in your favor, and you may be left with no compensation.
How Heenan & Cook Trial Lawyers Can Help
We understand that nothing can take away the pain you are experiencing right now. But hiring a wrongful death attorney can help you fight for the compensation you need to start to rebuild your life.
At Heenan & Cook Trial Lawyers, we have decades of experience handling complex wrongful death cases on behalf of our clients. We will gladly take cases to trial to achieve the best possible settlements for our valued clients. We understand the grief our clients have, and work closely with families to achieve justice and accountability.
Don’t delay in seeking legal advice! Contact us today for a free case evaluation to see how we can help.