When you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, the aftermath can turn your life on its ear. Making final arrangements and handling the unexpected costs of a funeral, along with any medical bills your loved one might have incurred, can feel overwhelming. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit may help you recover financially, and there are several questions you can ask an attorney to better understand this process.
1. Will I Have to Attend Court?
Each wrongful death lawsuit has its own set of circumstances; however, not all cases reach the courtroom stage. In some cases, the defendant offers to settle out of court or the issue might be resolved during arbitration, where an objective third party hears both you and the defendant in regards to the dispute and then offers a solution that may satisfy you both. If this fails, then you may have to attend court to continue the pursuit of your case.
2. How Long Is the Process?
It can take several months to over a year to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit, and the actual length of the case might depend on several factors, including whether the defendant disputes his or her liability in the death and the size of the deficit between the amount of money you seek and the amount an insurance company offers you. Your attorney may be able to project a timeline for you based on these factors. While the process may seem frustrating at times, keeping your legal goals in sight may help you keep the proper perspective.
3. Are There Time Limits for Filing?
Most states have their own regulations for filing wrongful death claims, but in many cases, you have up to two years from the time of the death to take action. In some cases, the injuries that eventually lead to your loved one’s death may not have been noticed right away, and some courts may make allowances for this circumstance. Your lawyer can advise you about the laws in your state of residence.
4. Can I Sue for Punitive Damages?
Courts may award punitive damages if the courts find the defendant guilty and that his or her actions were especially negligent. The defendant usually must pay these damages out of pocket, as most insurance companies do not include coverage for them. Your lawyer can advise you about including punitive damages in your wrongful death lawsuit.Losing a loved one to another’s negligence can be devastating, but you do not have to face the future without assistance. If you might have a wrongful death case, contact a wrongful death lawyer to discuss your case.