Wrongful Death Lawsuits after an Accident
Written by Greg on April 23, 2012
What is Wrongful Death?
One definition of ‘wrongful death’ is to cause the death (demise, fatality) of another human through negligence or recklessness and with complete disregard for the safety of others, or with the deliberate intent to kill or harm.
Common Causes of Fatalities
There are some common causes of wrongful death in the United States. One of the leading ‘agents’ is vehicle crashes. While the numbers have fallen over the last thirty years – there are still over thirty thousand Americans killed annually from car accidents and 18-wheeler wrecks. Nearly a third are the result of drunk driving, but there is a growing segment of deaths that are because of distracted driving.
A second leading cause of wrongful deaths is product liability. This may take several forms. A product may have design flaws that make it dangerous to the health of an individual to use. In other cases, the defect may be a result of manufacturing or failing to warn the consumer of dangers. In Texas, a product must be unreasonably dangerous before liability can attach.
No matter what the ultimate cause is shown to be – if the use of the unreasonably dangerous product results in the death of an individual and the defect in the product caused the death then it is classified as ‘wrongful’ and liability might be imposed.
Surprisingly, a third very common cause of wrongful death is workplace accidents. These, too, can take many forms including such things as falls, burns and explosions or equipment malfunctions. Most often death occurs in construction accidents and manufacturing accidents.
Emotional Trauma After a Wrongful Death
When a family member has killed because of an unexpected accident, it can hit the family like a ton of bricks. Study after study has shown that loss of a family member is the most stressful situation we can ever face in our life.
The feelings can vary from denial, hurt, sorrow, anger, sadness and even guilt. Individuals can differ in how they handle the stress of loss of a loved one, but it is a difficult process to work through. Loss of sleep, appetite and attention and denial are common occurrences after the loss of a loved one.
The feelings of the loss from a wrongful death can immobilize or paralyze a person from taking action to protect the family’s financial interest when someone else is negligent that caused the accident that took the family member.
Action Necessary to Protect Your Economic Future
After an accident whether an 18- wheeler crash or a construction accident or other tragedy, the insurance carriers for the negligent companies will start their investigation immediately and began looking for ways to defend the wrongful death lawsuit.
Early investigation can reveal liability factors that the insurance company would much prefer that the facts do not come out at all.
It is at this time of stress that it is vital for the family to protect their financial interests by retaining a reputable and experienced wrongful death attorney to investigate the claims and protect their family’s interests.
The earlier the family acts to hire a wrongful death lawyer the better position the attorney will be to help them be successful in their wrongful death case.
How Long do Wrongful Death Cases Last?
A wrongful death case can take from months to years depending on the facts surrounding the accident, the parties, and the available insurance coverage. Even in cases where legal responsibility can appear crystal clear, defense interests can and will contest every aspect of a claim. A trial setting sometimes is the reality check for the insurance company to get real about the value of a case.
How do Wrongful Death Attorneys Get Paid?
Attorneys generally handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee arrangement. Contingency fees allow the case to move forward without the family having to pay for the lawyer or the expenses necessary in lawsuits.
If the law firm is successful, the lawyers will charge a percentage of the money paid by the defense.
How to Research Wrongful Death Attorneys
It is essential that you do your homework before retaining an attorney to represent your family. Hiring an attorney who is not the best fit can lead to less than stellar results and make a stressful situation worse. Here are a few tips to finding the best wrongful death lawyer.
Look for an individual attorney who has a track record in the specific type of case that caused the death of your family member. Make sure the attorney you think you are hiring is the one who will do the work on the case.
Many people make the mistake of selecting an excellent law firm only to be passed off to an associate attorney who takes the depositions and works up the case- under “supervision” of the lawyer you thought you were getting. Having an associate or junior attorney work your case is like needing an operation and having the surgeon you thought you were getting not be the doctor doing the surgery. Having a supervised junior lawyer learn on the job with your loss is not the way to approach protecting your future.
Ask tough questions and make certain you are comfortable with the lawyer you choose before you sign up.