The death of a loved one dies is always tragic. But when a loved one dies because of someone else’s negligence, the stress and emotions can be overwhelming. With funeral preparation and grieving, it can be difficult to make clear decisions. Unfortunately, the delay in acting can greatly affect the chances of victory in such a case. You need to act, now.
Wrongful death cases are their own class of personal injury actions. Instead of the normal injury case as a result of a slip and fall, car wreck or medical malpractice, this claim alleges that someone else’s negligence caused the death of your loved one. The first thing one must realize is that someone must be appointed over the Estate of the deceased before any action can be taken. This person is normally the spouse or child of the deceased. The Executor (if the person had a Will) of Administrator (if the person died without a Will) must be appointed within one (1) year of the death. The Estate then has a period of one (1) additional year after the appointment to bring the wrongful death action. However, as experts may need to view the scene, the closer to the accident you get started, the better the chance of recovery.
Once the action is filed, it is important to remember what can be recovered for the beneficiaries of the Estate. It is always difficult to value the life of any person. However, the Jury is left with this task. One important element is loss of future income. If the deceased was a young person with a good job, this element may result in a huge recovery. If the person were disabled or retired, this amount may be almost non-existent. Pain and Suffering is always a large element. With any wrongful death case, the burden fall to the Estate to prove that the person consciously suffered prior to death from the injury. In cases where the person is deceased at the scene, this can be difficult to prove as well. These are the two main elements that make up the value of the case for the Estate. They will determine if you obtain a large verdict or a minimal verdict. One final element that may be present is “punitive damages”. In cases of extreme recklessness (drugs, drunk driving, etc.), maliciousness or intentional conduct, these damages may be awarded to punish the person at fault for such behavior.
In many instances, there will also be a separate claim by the spouse or the children (if under 18) for loss of consortium. This element does not affect the Estate, but the individual and deals with a loss of the relationship between the deceased and the spouse or child.