After losing a loved one through questionable means, consider filing a wrongful death claim so you and your family get the justice and financial assistance you need. You are entitled to a wrongful death claim if your loved one dies because of someone’s negligence or intentional actions. The lawsuit allows you to seek compensation for loss of inheritance, companionship, consortium, lost income, and funeral expenses, to name a few.
Dealing with a case such as this, which usually involves the death of a close family member and can be strenuous, especially because it comprises a lot of minor processes. However, you can reduce some of the headaches by employing the help of a lawyer for a wrongful death claim.
What Are the Steps Involved In Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
Step 1: The Pre-Litigation
Pre-litigation begins when the primary next of kin, with the help of a wrongful death attorney, initiates an investigation into the circumstances that lead to a loss of life. Gathering all evidence and information from police reports and hospital records can take months. If the accused party agrees the gathered evidence heavily favors you, the case could be settled out of court. A skilled, wrongful death lawyer will help you show a preponderance of evidence in support of your claim to help keep you from going to trial and instead settle it outside court.
Step 2: Negotiations between You and the Defendants
Once the investigation is complete, your lawyer can now notify all parties involved about your pursuit of financial compensation. It’s essential to have an attorney who is experienced in negotiating claims to ensure you are not overwhelmed by the defendant’s negotiators or the experienced negotiators representing the insurance providers.
Step 3: Lawsuit Proceeds with the End of Negotiations
If both parties do not come to an agreement and the claim is not settled outside of court, the case moves to formal litigation. This stage usually has plenty of minor processes.
Your lawyer has to first prepare a complaint and summons for all the defendants to be served with. What follows is the pre-trial discovery stage; both parties disclose their evidence to each other. Then comes the interrogatories, where both the defendant and the plaintiff issues a set of written questions to be answered under oath, also in written form. Both parties can then request relevant documents involving the case from each other; such documents may include insurance, death, or hospital records.
Parties and witnesses are then orally questioned under oath on the written answers initially provided for the written questions. A judge usually holds a pre-trial with the attorneys of both parties ahead of the trial to discuss the necessities for the upcoming trial and to also see if there can be an agreement before the trial.
Step 4: The Wrongful Death Claim Goes to Trial
The final stage of the wrongful death claim is the trial. The trial is usually conducted with the presence of a jury, and if the case goes through the entire trial process without last-minute negotiations, then the jury verdict will be the conclusion. However, in some states, either party can choose to appeal the case.
With You Every Step of the Way
While no amount of financial settlement can help heal the pain of losing a loved one, it does offload some of the financial burden resulting from their death. Knowing the process involved in filing a wrongful death claim helps you prepare for discussions, negotiations, and the trial to come.