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What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful Death Lawyers Huntsville TX

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Has one of your loved ones died recently due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing? If so, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. As a result, you could obtain compensation for medical and funeral expenses, lost income, and other related costs.

Your best chance to prevail with this type of a lawsuit is to enlist a skilled and experienced attorney. Indeed, a wrongful death attorney Huntsville with a long record of success could guide you through the process and build the strongest possible legal arguments.

Losing a family member unnecessarily can be agonizing, and it can take a long time to reclaim your life afterwards. Even so, you may gain some measure of solace if you seek justice on that person’s behalf.

What Is a Wrongful Death?

In basic terms, a wrongful death is when someone dies due to one or more people failing to fulfill their legal responsibilities.

Wrongful deaths are often unintentional. Nevertheless, under the law, every person must meet certain expectations. And if someone’s carelessness or recklessness leads to someone else’s death, the law requires that there be ramifications. It’s a matter of simple fairness.

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action and not a criminal proceeding. Thus, the defendant or defendants won’t be found guilty or not guilty. Instead, they’ll be deemed liable or not liable.

Moreover, there are many different types of wrongful deaths. Examples include but are certainly not limited to the following:

  • An intoxicated, distracted, or careless driver hits a pedestrian or bicyclist.
  • A workplace or commercial accident is caused by unsafe conditions inside a store, warehouse, or other facility.
  • A restaurant or party host mistakenly serves toxic foods.
  • A doctor fails to diagnose an easily diagnosable disease.
  • A healthcare professional gives a patient the wrong type of medication or the wrong dosage.
  • An adult serves alcohol to a minor who later drives home drunk.

Be aware, too, that not all wrongful deaths are accidents. In many cases, when someone murders someone else, the victim’s family members can sue the person who committed the homicide. Such a lawsuit might go forward even after a defendant is found not guilty of murder in a criminal proceeding.

In other cases, a person might not have intended to kill the victim but did intend to harm that individual. For instance, imagine that two strangers get into an argument on the street. Eventually, one person punches the other. As a result of that punch, the second person falls backward, hits his head hard on the pavement, and dies. Such an occurrence could lead not only to a criminal indictment but also to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Keep in mind that every state establishes its own rules for wrongful death lawsuits. Thus, the statute of limitations — which is generally between one and three years — and the monetary limits for these suits will vary from state to state.

Similarly, each state decides who is eligible to receive damages after a wrongful death. For example, being a beneficiary of someone’s will does not automatically entitle you to a wrongful death lawsuit. Rather, in most cases, plaintiffs are limited to the spouses, children, and immediate family members of the deceased.

Of course, as an expert in wrongful death law, your lawyer will be up to date with all the relevant state regulations. Your wrongful death attorney will also help you determine the right amount of money to sue for.

Many of your damages will be specific and quantifiable, including medical expenses and burial costs. With that in mind, it helps to have as much documentation on hand as possible: receipts, doctors’ bills, and so forth. Naturally, during times of mourning, it can be hard to think about money matters, but doing so will bolster your legal case.

On top of that, wrongful death lawsuits often seek recompense for a victim’s lost income. That is, you’d estimate — as accurately as you could — how much money your loved one would have earned between the day of the fatal incident and a projected retirement date. That number would entail not just wages but also bonuses, government benefits, employment perks, and insurance coverage.

Your wrongful death lawyer could help you to calculate this total amount based on the victim’s past earnings. To prove that the amount you’re seeking is reasonable, you might need such financial documentation as pay stubs, bank statements, and income tax returns.

Investigating a Wrongful Death

To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must have a preponderance of evidence. In legal terminology, “preponderance of evidence” means you have enough corroboration to demonstrate that the defendant is probably guilty.

Note that this burden of proof is less stringent than in a criminal case. In criminal trials, defendants cannot be found guilty unless prosecutors prove their guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Even so, a preponderance of evidence can be a difficult legal standard to meet. It almost always requires the services of a practicing wrongful death attorney — one who’s skilled, talented, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the cause of justice.

To put together a viable case on your behalf, your attorney will first need to reconstruct the fatal incident. To do so, your lawyer might interview eyewitnesses, examine pieces of physical evidence from the scene, review security videos or other footage, scrutinize police and medical reports, and talk to forensic experts, among other measures.

Who Is Responsible for the Wrongful Death?

After conducting an inquiry, your wrongful death lawyer Huntsville will determine who bears legal responsibility for the fatality.

That party could be a single person, two or more individuals, or an entity like a small business, a corporation, or another organization.

Imagine, for example, that a drunk driver strikes and kills a pedestrian who’s walking on a sidewalk. In such a case, the intoxicated motorist would almost certainly bear legal responsibility for the fatal accident.

However, that driver might not be the only one who warrants blame. If, say, a bartender served alcohol to that motorist right before the collision, that employee may be responsible for the death as well.

For that matter, what about the bar itself? What if a wrongful death lawyer found that the establishment’s owners failed to train their bartenders properly? What if the bar routinely allows its patrons to drink alcohol to excess before getting in a car and driving away? Under those circumstances, the bar’s owners very well might deserve a wrongful death lawsuit, too.

In any event, after compiling all of the necessary evidence, your wrongful death attorney must be able to demonstrate three specific facts to win the lawsuit:

  1. The defendant had a certain legal obligation to the person who died.
  2. Through action or inaction, the defendant failed to meet that obligation.
  3.  The defendant’s failure led directly to the victim’s death.

A Skilled Lawyer Makes All the Difference

If you end up filing a wrongful death claim, it’s unlikely that a jury will ever consider your case. Instead, in most instances, these lawsuits are settled through a complex series of negotiations.

Therefore, your attorney would probably sit down with the defendant’s attorney — or the attorneys for the defendant’s insurance company — and try to work out an equitable solution.

Generally speaking, plaintiffs and defendants prefer negotiating wrongful death cases because jury decisions involve a great deal of uncertainty and risk. Indeed, no matter how strong or weak a legal case may be, it’s often very hard to predict what jurors will decide. They might side for the defendant, meaning the plaintiffs would get nothing. Or they may require the defendant to pay a surprisingly exorbitant amount of money in damages.

Whether addressing a jury or negotiating with other attorneys, a good wrongful death lawyer will strongly advocate for your rights every step of the way. Their arguments will be highly persuasive and effective, and they’ll conduct themselves fearlessly. For sure, this legal professional won’t back down until you get the compensation to which you’re entitled — the compensation you absolutely deserve.

Without question, when someone we love dies, nothing can ever make up for the loss. As the days, months, and years go by, we keep feeling their absence. At times, the grief can be overwhelming.

However, when you receive monetary compensation from a wrongful death claim, you can start paying off debts, making investments, and putting the rest of your financial affairs in order. In turn, your stress will be alleviated. And you may finally feel ready to face the future, come what may. Brighter days are surely ahead, and by moving forward in positive ways, you’d definitely make your lost loved one proud.

Would you like more information about wrongful death law Huntsville and about what we could do for you and your family? If so, please feel free to contact us at any time. We’re always here for you.