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Published On: Wed, Dec 5th, 2018

Filing wrongful death lawsuits is now clearer for everyone

There are multiple cases when people die because of the negligent behavior of other people. The family of the person who dies in such manner has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or the company that caused the death through their deliberate actions. The only condition that needs to be respected to proceed with filing a wrongful death lawsuit is that the deceased person lost his life exclusively due to the behavior of the party accused, and the family members are directly affected either emotionally or financially. The lawsuit represents a civil court action. After following the necessary steps, the civil court will analyze the situation and decide the amount of damages and compensatory money respectively.

Photo/Nodar Kherkheulidze via wikimedia commons

Eligibility

Before putting in any effort to file such a lawsuit, you must make sure that you are eligible for it. The grounds for filling a wrongful death lawsuit are not strict. First of all, the person must prove what or who caused the death of their loved one. Secondly, the person or the family members should prove that they suffered damage due to this wrongful death. The family members that are qualified to file such a lawsuit are parents, spouses and children of the deceased person. Minors need to be backed up by a legal guardian who will manage the lawsuit. In certain states, the family members that can file a wrongful death lawsuit extend to grandparents, stepparents or dependents. The law differs from one state to another, so you must get informed about the regulations in your location first.

Opening a probate estate

You need to locate and read the deceased person’s testament, if there is an existent one. The testament or last will should contain details related to the funeral or burial, specific bequests or estate, guardians for minor children in the family that were under the supervising of the deceased person and so on. The original document should be used in the lawsuit. In case no testament or will exists, a list of the decedent’s assets and liabilities should be created. In order to open the probate estate, you will need a lawyer and a series of legal documents. Once everything has been signed by the probate judge, you can provide certified copies of the probate order to the financial institutions that require it. The time needed for this process varies from state to state. The steps are complex and the advice of a person working in the legal field should be taken into account before anything else.

What damages can be collected?

There are multiple types of damages that can be collected after filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The loss of quality of life, any type of suffering involved, inheritance loss, mental suffering, or even loss of companionship can be used in the lawsuit as damages. Usually, the compensation covers the costs related to any medical bills that had to be paid before the death of the person. The same goes with burial expenses or other specific requirements that were specified in the will or testament. Lost wages of family members should also be covered by this lawsuit. Any emotional, physical or financial damage suffered by the family members due to the death of the person will be compensated. Punitive damages are under discussion in some states, as they involve punishing the person or the company that caused the wrongful death. In some states, the legal rights allow the guilty party to get away with the compensations only.

Costs and duration

Like any other lawsuit, wrongful death ones can require some commitment from you, both in terms of financial resources and time spent. Most cases are settled in a few months, but some of them can take up to a few years if there are complications along the way. You must be patient when you start filing this lawsuit. As for the costs, it all depends on the lawyers you select and the state you are in. The procedure can be more or less expensive depending on these factors. Lawyers should offer you an estimated cost regarding how much money you will spend on the lawsuit and how much money you will receive at the end of it.

Choosing an attorney

Choosing a good attorney is the key to win a wrongful death lawsuit. Since the process is so lengthy and complex, you surely want to hire professionals to handle it. A Miami wrongful death lawyer can be found quite easily, but you must pay attention to multiple details. First, contact the attorney immediately after the death of your loved one, even though it seems like there is not enough time for anything. Hiring a lawyer is an immediate need that you have to handle in order to get things right in the long run. Secondly, choose a lawyer company with a great reputation to avoid complications during the process.

Author: Cynthia Madison

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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