Losing a loved one is heartbreaking under any circumstances. But having a family member or partner die suddenly because of someone else’s wrongful actions can be overwhelming.
While it is difficult to think about pursuing legal action while you are grieving, there are circumstances where it is appropriate to obtain a lawyer’s help.
If someone else’s negligent, reckless, or intentional wrongdoing caused your loved one’s accident and eventual death, you may have a wrongful death case. Since your loved one’s death, you may have wondered, Is it worth hiring a wrongful death attorney? Today, we attempt to answer that question. Though this list is by no means exhaustive, these are six of the key reasons to hire an experienced wrongful death attorney.
The Person Who Caused Your Loved One’s Death Was Negligent
If it appears your loved one died because someone did something wrong, then it is essential to consider whether they were legally negligent.
What Is Negligence?
If someone is negligent, it means they failed to behave with the level of care that an ordinary person would have used under the same circumstances. It also can mean that the person did not do anything when they had a duty to act, and a reasonable person would have acted.
How Do I Prove Negligence?
To establish that someone else was negligent, you must prove these four elements:
- Duty—the wrongdoer owed your loved one a duty of care under the circumstances or as a result of the specific relationship between them (such as doctor-patient);
- Breach of duty—the wrongdoer breached that duty by failing to meet the standard of care;
- Causation—the breach of duty caused the death; and
- Damages—the wrongful death caused financial and emotional losses that can be compensated with monetary relief.
If you cannot prove all four of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, then you do not have a valid wrongful death case based on negligence.
You Need Help Dealing with Insurance Companies
The point of insurance is to pay for expenses and losses. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to get insurance companies to pay valid claims because paying claims hurts their bottom line. Typically, insurance adjusters try to get vulnerable victims to accept lowball offers to get rid of a case early and on the cheap. However, accepting such a lowball offer can leave you out in the cold when additional expenses continue to pile up.
To make matters worse, you may be dealing with multiple insurance companies. A car accident, for instance, may involve automotive, health, and life insurance claims. This is one of the main reasons why you need a wrongful death lawyer. Let them take this stress off of you and make sure you get all the compensation you are entitled to.
You Live in a Comparative Fault State
California and some other states apply a pure comparative fault rule when awarding monetary damages. This means that you may recover in a wrongful death action even if your loved one was partially or even mostly to blame for whatever caused their death.
In this situation, an attorney can help you defend against allegations that your loved one was liable. Because the comparative fault standard will reduce the compensation you receive, it is vital to have an experienced wrongful death attorney refute such allegations.
The Cause of the Accident Is Unclear
In some cases, it is not entirely clear who or what caused the accident. Using the car accident example again, the other driver may have fled the scene, or something in the road may have caused the accident. A lawyer can use investigators and other tools to determine the cause of the accident. Whether this involves locating and identifying the other driver or determining whether the city or a company’s delivery driver was responsible for the road obstruction, attorneys are adept at finding the answers to elusive questions.
An Attorney Can Determine the Value of Your Claim
If you plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit, an attorney can help you figure out what your claim is worth and then help you fight for that amount.
In a wrongful death case, you may be entitled to economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic damages cover the kinds of things you have receipts for or can readily calculate, like:
- The financial support the decedent would have contributed to the family if they had lived;
- Any lost gifts or benefits the decedent would have been expected to give to the plaintiff;
- Funeral and burial expenses; and
- The reasonable value of household services the decedent would have provided.
Noneconomic damages include more personal and intangible things like the loss of:
- The decedent’s love, companionship, assistance, and moral support;
- The enjoyment of sexual relations; and
- The decedent’s training and guidance.
It may be harder to affix a value to these intangible losses, but an experienced wrongful death lawyer can give you an idea of what to expect.
You Need to File a Lawsuit or Go to Trial
Finally, though you can file a lawsuit and even proceed to trial without an attorney, it is not advisable. There are many complex legal gymnastics involved in litigation that are difficult to navigate without the proper training and experience. More importantly, there are strict deadlines. Wrongful death suits typically must be filed within two years of the death. But even aside from that, the court will set many firm deadlines during the course of litigation. Thus, it is worth hiring a wrongful death attorney to take these burdens off your shoulders while you grieve.
Why Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer from The Larsen Firm?
Is it worth hiring a wrongful death attorney? We hope we’ve helped you answer that question today. At The Larsen Firm, we focus on making personal connections with our clients. Our attorneys all began their careers in public service, and we bring that same spirit of service to our clients. We know you have been through a traumatic experience, and our goal is to handle the details so that you can focus on healing.
You can trust us with your case because we have a 99% success rate with wrongful death claims throughout California. And the initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out. Contact us today.