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Understanding the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

Understanding the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

 

In life, accidents are unavoidable. Human error makes up for a majority of these tragic incidents.

From safety in the workplace to elder abuse and motor vehicle accidents, if someone you love is a victim of wrongful death, you might have a lawsuit on your hands.

Although nothing can heal the pain of your loss, getting the compensation you deserve can help honor your loved one’s legacy.

The professionals at Scranton Law Firm can help. With more than 45 years of experience and over $500 million awarded to victims,

Keep reading to learn more about filing a wrongful death lawsuit and what you’re entitled to.

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What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death?

Losing a loved one is difficult, regardless of the circumstances. But when tragedy strikes and you suspect a wrongful death, it can make a bad situation worse.

Curious of what constitutes a wrongful death? Here are some of the most common claims and wrongful death suits filed.

Wrongful Death Document

 

Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents caused over 36,000 deaths in the United States in 2018, making it the leading cause of wrongful death.

Most car crashes happen due to negligence including speeding, traffic violations (running a stop sign or red light), distracted driving, or driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI).

Many fatal car accidents involve trucks. When a larger, overloaded truck is involved in the accident, the risk of death increases substantially.

Truck drivers who are operating a vehicle while drowsy, have an oversized load or fail to address mechanical issues could face criminal charges. 

Negligence while driving is a serious offense. If someone dies in the crash, that driver can be held accountable for the accident. On the other hand, if the accident and death are caused by external factors including problems with the road, traffic lights or signs, the county may be held liable. 

 

 

Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

With 45 million cyclists on the road, it’s no wonder that bicycle accidents are another leading cause of wrongful death. Pedestrians are another common sight on most city streets. 

Although most major cities have laws that give pedestrians the right of way, many motorists don’t oblige. Adding to the confusion is the fact that not every state’s laws are the same – and pedestrians don’t always have the right of way.

Cyclists are held to the same standards as motorists and must follow traffic laws accordingly. Some areas also have designated bike lanes on major streets and roadways.

The most common cause of bicycle accidents is negligent motorists who turn in front of cyclists or ride too close behind them, clipping the rear tire and causing a crash. Another common occurrence is “dooring”. This happens when a parked vehicle opens their door into the bike lane.

One of two things usually happen. Either the cyclist hits the door, causing injury or death, or the cyclist swerves into oncoming traffic to avoid contact with the door. 

Pedestrian accidents are usually fatal because individuals have no protection when walking down the street. Unlike cyclists who wear helmets and other protective gear, a pedestrian’s body takes the full impact of a crash.

Although the driver is most often at fault in a pedestrian accident that ends in death, the municipality or county may be held liable if the sidewalk or pathway is not appropriately protected. 

 

Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is another common and tragic type of wrongful death lawsuit you can file. The most common causes of medical malpractice include improperly trained medical staff, human error, cutting corners, and not following proper procedures.

Some example of medical malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis
  • Surgical errors
  • Medication errors
  • Birth injuries
  • Hospital negligence
  • Defective medical devices

 

In some cases, the patient’s medical condition or health are compromised before they realize something’s wrong. The task of fighting for what your loved deserves is now your responsibility.

Family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital, medical facility, or the doctor themselves.

 

Workplace Accidents

There were 2.8 million workplace injuries in 2018. Of those, 5,250 people died, which was a 2% increase from the previous year.

Workplace injuries are far too common. Implementing proper safety precautions and equipment plus providing adequate employee training can help reduce the risk.

Certain occupations are at greater risk for workplace injuries and death. These include construction and manufacturing workers, as well as law enforcement officers and firefighters. Accidents on job sites are common but preventable.

Employers that fail to implement a safe work environment or maintain equipment can be held liable for accidental deaths on the job.

 

 

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse

As difficult a decision as it might be, many adult children are forced to place their loved ones in a nursing home or assisted living facility. The decision is made easier when you know that your loved ones are being cared for by compassionate and experienced staff. But what happens when that’s not the case?

Nursing home neglect is more common than you might think, with nearly 1 in 10 adults over the age of 60 facing some type of abuse. Elderly patients are trusting and sometimes face cognitive issues that make it difficult for them to communicate. Some individuals don’t even realize they’re being abused.

Patients whose health is already compromised are more susceptible to fatal injury and wrongful death. Neglect and abuse resulting in death include physical abuse, bedsores, falls, dehydration or malnourishment, and failure to provide adequate medical care. 

Most wrongful death lawsuits for elder abuse are brought against the facility itself, not the nurse or employee.

 

Defective Products

Another common cause of wrongful death is the use or ingestion of defective products. In these cases, the manufacturer is held liable.

In serious wrongful death suits, all parties involved may be held accountable, including the distribution companies or those involved with the product’s design.

Defective products can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Toys and other children’s products
  • Tools or machinery 
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Motor vehicles

 

A good way to avoid using a defective product is to stay up to date on product recalls and warnings. 

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The Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

Now that you know what constitutes a wrongful death case, let’s discuss how to file a lawsuit and receive the payout you deserve.

 

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

Your first course of action when filing a wrongful death lawsuit is to contact an experienced attorney. Wrongful death lawsuits are complicated and require plenty of knowledge, experience, and skilled research.

Your lawyer will make sure your claim is filed in a timely fashion, that all responsible parties are held accountable, and you claim the proper damages.

Dealing with the death of a loved one is difficult and emotional. Our attorneys will handle your case with compassion and sensitivity.  

 

Obtain the Death Certificate

Even during this difficult time, it’s important that you obtain the victim’s death certificate. Your local department of health should have a copy.

 

Appoint a Representative

Your loved one needs an advocate. Depending on if the deceased had a will or not, appointing a representative for the case can vary.

For those victims with a will, the person named in the will as the power of attorney will be appointed to represent the deceased.

If there is no will in place, the spouse or child of the victim is most often appointed to the role of representative. If the deceased has no heirs or living relatives, the judge trying the case will choose a representative. 

 

Investigate the Accident

Before you can build a wrongful death case, you need to investigate the accident or death. This is where an experienced attorney comes into play. 

The professionals at Scranton Law Firm will identify all involved parties and determine who’s liable and to what extent. An investigation will be done into what exactly caused the accident.

Any information you can provide in terms of the date, time, place, and witnesses of the accident will help your attorney build a strong case. 

 

Find Out the Statute of Limitations

Certain charges carry a specific statute of limitations. This means you can’t file a wrongful death lawsuit after a certain period of time. 

Different states have different laws, but most wrongful death cases must be filed within two years of the date of death. 

 

Determine the Extent of the Damage

One of the most important aspects of any wrongful death lawsuit is determining the extent of the damages. This will also determine the payout you receive and what compensation you’re entitled to.

Some things to consider are:

  • Cost of the funeral
  • Cost of medical expenses
  • Loss of earnings or income
  • Loss of support or services
  • Pain and suffering of the survivors

 

An experienced lawyer will gather enough information to support your claims and see that justice is done. 

 

Simplifying the Wrongful Death Lawsuit Process

Our experienced attorneys can help simplify and expedite your wrongful death lawsuit. This is a difficult time and you need all the support you can get.

We provide legal advice in a comforting and compassionate environment. Together, we can get you the compensation you deserve and honor the life of your lost loved one.

Contact us today or try our free case evaluation quiz to determine what type of legal advice and aid you need.

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