When to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death cases refer to any case where someone is responsible for the death of a friend or family member. In the past, you were only able to file a wrongful death suit if you were representing a family member, but in recent years, the laws have been modified. Even with the changes, the majority of cases still involve a family member. This is because the family member often inherits debt relating to the wrongful death, usually in the form of medical expenses.
Wrongful death cases can either be filed as criminal or civil cases. The process for filing a wrongful death is largely the same no matter the type of case. In either situation, it is important to hire an attorney to represent your case. Wrongful death cases are often some of the longest types of cases because of the seriousness of the charge. The process is also complex, and it can be difficult to even file a case without legal assistance. The cases are also naturally stressful, so it helps to have an attorney who is not as emotionally attached to the case as you are.
Common Types of Wrongful Deaths
One of the most well-known examples of wrongful death cases involve medical malpractice. In these cases, a friend or family member passes away due to a medical error. This can include a complication during surgery, failing to provide the correct treatment or misdiagnosing the patient. A subset of medical malpractice cases involve pharmaceutical drug error. In these cases, the patient died because a drug company failed to disclose certain side effects associated with the medication. This normally involves complications where one medication interferes with another.
Wrongful death cases do not have to involve the medical industry. A common type of wrongful death case is through motor vehicle accidents. If someone you know died as a result of a drunk, negligent or reckless driver, you may be able to sue the driver for a wrongful death. You can also file a wrongful death case if your friend or family member died as a result of unsafe conditions at work. In these cases, you are typically suing the business as opposed to an individual.
What Damages Can You Claim in a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death attorneys not only help you file your case, but they can also assess what kind of damages you can claim. In wrongful death cases, one of the largest expenses is often medical bills. In addition to medical expenses, you can also claim funeral expenses as part of the damages. If you lost wages because you had to take time off because of the wrongful death, you can include your lost earnings in the damages. If you lost a spouse who was the primary provider for your family, you may also be able to include his or her lost wages as part of the damages.
Another category you can charge for is pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages normally includes therapeutic costs, but a clever attorney can also include additional damages. For example, if you are unemployed and unable to look for work due to the stress of the wrongful death, your attorney can help you come up with a reasonable number to represent this damage. If there was any property damage involved in the wrongful death, such as a car getting totaled during an auto accident, you can also list these expenses as damage.
Handling the Stress of a Wrongful Death Case
Dealing with a wrongful death case is much harder than other legal cases because of the stress of losing someone close to you. It becomes even more challenging when you are forced to testify in the court. During a disposition, the opposing attorney will try and use your stress to his or her advantage, hoping you are unable to coherently answer questions, or trying to make you lash out to appear unreliable to a judge. Another tactic is dragging the case out with the hope you become too stressed to continue with the case. This is one of the reasons why wrongful death cases often take months or even years to resolve.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and need someone to speak with, do not be afraid to look for a therapist. In some cases, this may even help the case, as your attorney can potentially use your therapist as a witness. Make sure you do not let the case consume your life. You may initially feel guilty, but it is perfectly okay and necessary for your physical and mental well being to take time to yourself. Getting enough sleep is also important, especially if you are required to appear in court.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, be honest and upfront with your attorney. He or she may be able to offer additional assistance. Your attorney can also give you a much-needed break, focusing on a different part of the case which does not involve you, such as speaking with other witnesses or doing research.