Nothing compares to the pain that comes with losing someone you love. If you have lost a loved one due to a catastrophic injury, this can make matters feel even worse. Unfortunately, this is all too common. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim to help you recover.
A wrongful death claim exists where someone dies due to the negligent or intentional conduct of another person. Wrongful deaths occur more frequently than you might think. Examples of situations in which a wrongful death claim might arise include:
- Car accidents,
- Truck accidents,
- Motorcycle accidents,
- Medical malpractice,
- Slip and fall accidents, and
- Defective product accidents.
Regardless of how the death of your loved one occurs, this will likely be a difficult and emotional time. So where do you go from here?
Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be a difficult process, but you don’t have to go through it on your own. If you believe you might have a valid wrongful death claim, contact a lawyer to discuss your options. Read on to learn the three reasons you should hire a wrongful death lawyer after a catastrophic injury.
Reason 1: A Lawyer Can Help You Assess the Value of Your Claim
One of the main reasons you should hire a lawyer is to help you assess the value of your claim. The legal claims process can be difficult and time-consuming, and it can often feel like an uphill battle. Thus, before diving in, it is important to know what you claim might even be worth. A lawyer, with an in-depth understanding of the law, can help you do just this.
Wrongful Death Damages in General
When your loved one is involved in a catastrophic accident that results in death, you may be entitled to damages. Legal damages refer to the monetary compensation you may receive to help you recover when someone else’s actions cause you harm.
In a wrongful death action, you are bringing a lawsuit based on damages you personally suffered due to the death of someone else. Wrongful death claims provide accident victims’ survivors with a way to financially recover from their loss and to compensate them for emotional trauma. Thus, even if you yourself did not sustain any physical injuries, this does not mean that you are not entitled to damages.
Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Damages you may recover in a wrongful death action include compensation for:
- Funeral expenses;
- Loss of the victim’s future expected earnings;
- Loss of inheritance or benefits; and
- The value of services that a victim would have provided had they not passed away.
These types of damages are broadly referred to as economic damages. Economic damages are designed to compensate you for your financial losses arising out of the death of your loved one.
Additionally, however, you may be able to recover what are known as non-economic damages. Non-economic damages help to compensate for your less tangible losses.
Examples of non-economic damages in a wrongful death case include compensation for:
- Your mental anguish or pain and suffering;
- Loss of love and companionship;
- Loss of consortium; and
- Loss of care, protection, guidance, and nurturing from your deceased loved one.
While these non-economic damages may be less tangible and more difficult to calculate, they are just as important as your economic damages to your overall compensation and recovery. In fact, non-economic damages in a wrongful death case will often have more value than your potential economic damages.
Thus, it is crucial that you have an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can help you assess your damages. A lawyer can help you determine how much compensation you may ultimately receive and decide whether bringing a claim is financially worthwhile.
Reason 2: A Lawyer Can Help You Negotiate
Another important reason to hire a lawyer is to assist with negotiations.
TV shows and movies make it seem like going to trial for a legal dispute is the norm. In reality, however, this is far from true. In fact, roughly 97% of civil cases will end before trial. Most of these cases will end in some form of settlement. For this reason, having a strong negotiator in your corner can be a great asset for you and the outcome of your wrongful death claim.
Civil cases will frequently begin with settlement negotiations in an attempt to avoid the time and expense that litigation typically brings. However, if you don’t have an attorney, you may have to negotiate with opposing parties, their insurers, or their lawyers. Doing this on your own can feel intimidating and overwhelming. Further, without an understanding of the law, you may not even know what rights and defenses you have. This could potentially lead to you accepting an offer to settle that is well below what you may actually deserve.
Hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer can help you avoid this scenario and maximize your results.
Reason 3: A Lawyer Can Help You Take Your Case to Trial, If Necessary
In some cases, a wrongful death claim must go to trial. You technically do not need a lawyer to represent you in court. However, navigating the trial process can be exceedingly difficult for someone without prior trial experience.
Steps involved in a court trial include:
- Jury selection,
- Opening statements,
- Presenting evidence,
- Direct and cross-examination of witnesses, and
- Closing arguments.
Even lawyers with extensive experience in other areas will find it difficult to handle a trial if they have never done one before. Thus, having a wrongful death lawyer with tried and true trial experience can be a huge help to your case.