It is never easy to lose someone you love. It is especially difficult when you feel that their death could have been prevented if someone hadn't acted negligently. If you have lost someone like this, you can take legal action by filing a claim for wrongful death, though you may feel overwhelmed by the prospect. Here are three things you need to know about filing a wrongful death claim.
1. Understand who can bring a wrongful death claim to court.
States have their own laws about who can bring a wrongful death claim to court. Most states allow for parents, legal spouses, and children to be able to sue for wrongful death of their loved one. However, some states allow for others to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit.
For instance, some states allow same sex partners and domestic partners to file wrongful death lawsuits. There are other family members who can bring a wrongful death claim to court, but it depends on state law and whether there are any closer relations to the deceased who could bring forth the lawsuit instead.
2. Proving fault is a multi-step process.
In order for you to win your wrongful death case, you have to prove that the other party acted negligently. You have to establish that the defendant had a duty to the deceased person. Then, you have to prove that they breached that duty. After that, you have to prove to the court that the breach of duty is what caused the death of your loved one. Finally, there has to be proof of damages stemming from their negligence - which, in cases of death, that is enough to prove damages.
You need to understand that it is important that all four of those things are proven in court. Even if one of them can't be proven, it can completely sink your wrongful death case. That is why it is imperative that you hire an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death cases and will be better equipped to handle your case.
3. There is a statute of limitations on filing a wrongful death claim.
As with other lawsuits, you do need to be mindful of the statute of limitations for your wrongful death case. Every state's laws differ on how long you have to file, but most start the clock on the date of death. In some states you may only have a matter of months to file a wrongful death lawsuit, while you can have several years to do so in others. In order to make sure you file your claim in time, you need to do it as soon as possible after your loved one dies - especially if you are certain it was because of negligent actions. Contact a local wrongful death lawyer, such as Law Offices Of John Drew Warlick Jr., P.A., for further assistance.