Every year in the United States, over 2.4 million people are buried by their loved ones. But despite this being an inevitable part of life, death still hasn’t gotten easier for those left behind.
When you lose a loved one, it’s difficult to know where to start the process of moving forward. This is especially true when there are questions about how your loved one died and who should be held accountable.
The claim process may seem overwhelming at first. However, if you can avoid some wrongful death claim errors, it will help you move through this important time with less stress.
Read on for some mistakes that can get in the way of a solid claim filing process.
1. Filing Against the Wrong Person
Filing a wrongful death claim is a very serious matter. At the heart of this claim is the idea that someone else’s negligence caused your loved one’s death, and that you deserve compensation for their loss. But when you file a wrongful death suit, it is important to understand whom you can sue.
There are two types of people who can be responsible for wrongful death:
- The person or company directly responsible for causing your loved one’s death
- Any third parties that should have stepped in to prevent the death from occurring (the contributors)
A contributor may include an employer or supervisor who failed to provide proper safety equipment or training. Some examples of contributors are:
- An apartment building owner whose property management company did not maintain regular fire inspection
- Another driver involved in a car accident if they were speeding at the time of impact
- A car dealership that sold an unsafe vehicle
2. Not Getting a Lawyer
It’s easy to feel the pressure of taking care of your family, especially when you’re grieving. But if you want to make sure that your loved one’s death is not in vain, then hiring a wrongful death lawyer is your best bet.
A wrongful death lawyer can help you:
- Investigate the case
- Gather evidence so that the party responsible for your loved one’s death can receive punishment
- Sue on behalf of your loved one’s estate to recover compensation from the responsible parties
- Negotiate with opposing counsel (attorneys hired by the person at fault) to settle before going to trial
3. Hiring an Inexperienced Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is not just about making sure that person can argue your case in court. It’s also about taking care of you and your family, which means looking out for your interests and being able to expect what’s coming next.
When hiring a wrongful death lawyer, experience matters. It’s important to choose one who has been around the block a few times—like Georgia Auto Law, for example.
4. Not Knowing the Claim Filing Deadline
The statute of limitations is the time during which you can file a wrongful death claim. In most states, this time period is two years from your loved one’s death.
If you miss that deadline, it will be much more difficult to pursue legal action against someone.
5. Failing to Communicate With Your Lawyer
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they file a wrongful death claim is failing to communicate with their lawyer. Many people are shy about speaking up and asking questions, but lawyers can’t read your mind.
If there are any issues with the way your case is proceeding, speak up sooner rather than later so changes can happen. Remember, your lawyer needs information from you to do their job properly.
If you are unclear about what they need, ask. If there is something that needs to be done, ask. If there is a question you have, ask.
Your lawyer cannot give you the best possible representation unless they know what’s going on.
6. Forgetting or Losing Important Wrongful Death Claim Documents
It is important to document everything, including the date and time of your loved one’s death.
You should also keep documentation of the circumstances of the event. For example, if they were working on a construction site when they died, take photos or videos of that site as soon as possible after their death. These photos will help show any potential legal issues with how this incident contributed to your loved one’s injuries.
If there were witnesses around at the time of someone’s death, make sure you speak with them as soon as possible. Record their statements before memories fade or change.
7. Accepting a Settlement Offer Without Talking to Your Lawyer
You should never accept a settlement offer without talking to your lawyer first. Your lawyer will know the true value of your case, and how much it’s worth in the eyes of a jury. They will also know how to negotiate with the other side to get you the most money possible.
It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to low-ball settlement offers when they know their client is liable for your loved one’s death. They may try to offer you a small sum of money, with the promise of more if you sign an agreement that says you won’t sue them again in the future. This is a common tactic used by insurance companies, and you should never agree to it.
Your lawyer has the experience, knowledge, and connections needed to get you the most money out of your case. If you accept an unfair settlement offer without consulting with your attorney, it could hurt or even ruin your case.
Avoid Wrongful Death Claim Errors to Build a Solid Claim
We hope that by reading this article, you’ll be able to avoid making wrongful death claim errors.
Remember, the more time that passes before you file a wrongful death claim, the less likely it is to be successful. It’s an emotional time for you and your family after losing someone so close, but don’t let your emotions get in the way of doing what’s right for yourself and other loved ones left behind after this tragedy.
If you’re feeling stressed about your legal situation, read our lifestyle articles for tips on how to cope.