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Understanding How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

What is a wrongful death lawsuit, and how can it benefit you? When a loved one dies due to factors like medical malpractice or driver negligence, that loss leaves you with medical bills, funeral expenses, and emotional pain and suffering. If another party’s action (or inaction) directly causes the death of someone close to you, you deserve compensation for that traumatic ordeal. A wrongful death lawsuit can help you seek that and bring the liable party to justice. A doctor who committed malpractice that resulted in death or a distracted driver who killed your loved one by accident must be held accountable.

Pursuing a wrongful death suit can change your life. A settlement can ease your financial burdens, and taking the guilty party to court can bring you some closure. If you do decide to do this, you’ll need a savvy wrongful death attorney on your side. That’s where Rossman Law Group comes in. We’ll help you understand how a wrongful death lawsuit works and guide you through the litigation process as we fight for justice for you and your family. Let’s take a closer look at that process.

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death occurs when someone dies due to another party’s negligence, misconduct, or in some cases, willful intent. Wrongful deaths are preventable, first and foremost. A wrongful death case is a civil charge, not a criminal one like murder or manslaughter, filed with the intent of winning a settlement for surviving loved ones.

To prove such a case, you and your attorney must show that the death was a direct result of another party’s action or inaction. You must also demonstrate how much you lost. This can take the form of sources of income, companionship, and emotional and physical support.

Medical malpractice is a common source of wrongful death. Personal injuries, such as slips and falls that lead to fatal complications, are also common wrongful death culprits.

However, some extreme cases of misconduct and outright malice have constituted wrongful death in the past, too. When the court acquitted O.J. Simpson of criminal murder charges, the families of Nicole Brown-Simpson and Ronald Goldman brought him to civil court on wrongful death charges—and won. As you can see, wrongful death spans a wide array of circumstances.

Who Can File for Wrongful Death?

Generally, family members by blood have the priority. If your deceased loved one didn’t have a formal executor for their estate, have a meeting with your family to discuss who will file the charges. Look at the person’s will, if they had one, and identify any heirs.

The deceased person’s spouse is most commonly in charge of filing a wrongful death suit. Any children or stepchildren are eligible as well. If the deceased individual was unmarried, speak to any siblings or stepsiblings involved. Any loved one who depended on the person financially, physically, or emotionally has a vested interest in a wrongful death suit. Additionally, if the deceased person was a minor, their parents or legal guardians can file the case. In most situations, the more distant your relation to the deceased person, the more difficult it will be to file charges.

How Do I File?

If you’re the one responsible for filing the wrongful death suit, then you must contact an attorney for top-tier assistance. Rossman Law Group’s wrongful death attorneys in Boise, Idaho, will help you gather the paperwork you need.

The state of Idaho grants you two years from the date of your loved one’s death to bring wrongful death charges against the liable party. That may seem like a long stretch of time, but the wheels of justice move at a snail’s pace. Consult with an attorney now, and they’ll guide you toward the speediest and most effective ways to cut through the red tape.

Collaborate with your attorney to gather all the evidence you need and more. All the medical bills you accrued during your loved one’s ordeal will be valuable in determining the amount of your settlement. The same goes for funeral expenses and any routine bills you have a hard time paying now with that loss of income. Your attorney will use these documents to determine how much money to seek in damages.

What Happens Next?

The courtroom can be intimidating—not just to you, but for the defendant. Whether that defendant is a hospital’s insurance company or a single distracted driver, they will often try to avoid going to court. This can be great for you, as it speeds up the process and gets you to the settlement step more quickly.

Your attorney will consult with the defendant’s attorney and negotiate an agreeable settlement amount. That settlement will take into account the following factors:

  • Medical bills accrued during the ordeal
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of household income
  • Loss of physical support (help around the house, etc.)
  • Loss of companionship

If the defendant doesn’t want to settle out of court, then your attorney will help you prepare for a trial. You and the defendant will both have opportunities to present evidence. Remember all those bills you saved? Now is the time to present them. Ultimately, a jury will decide the outcome and the size of your settlement, if applicable.

What Does My Settlement Look Like?

When you and your attorney win a settlement from the defendant, that number will take into account all the factors listed above. That money will compensate you for the expenses that the wrongful death caused you to accrue, such as medical bills and funeral costs. Settlements in personal injury and wrongful death cases generally fall into two categories: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages account for the bills. Those make up for the money you lost in the aftermath of your loved one’s passing. Not only do you receive compensation for those medical and funeral bills, but you also get some restitution for losing a valuable source of income. If your deceased loved one contributed financially to the household, you deserve to retain that income in some form.

Non-economic damages compensate you for the less tangible losses you suffered. If your loved one helped out around the house or provided you with valuable companionship, your settlement will account for those losses.

The state of Idaho doesn’t allow the classic “pain and suffering” damages related to your loved one’s death—at least, not in the way you may think. You can’t get compensation for the grief you suffered following their death, but you can still receive damages for the continued loss of their companionship. If you sought the help of a therapist to deal with the grief following your loved one’s passing, then the settlement may not cover those bills. However, the state does allow compensation for the loss as a whole.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a wrongful and preventable death, then call Rossman Law Group for a free legal consultation to discuss your options. Understanding how a wrongful death lawsuit works is critical to seeking compensation for your traumatic ordeal. Your loved one deserves justice, and you deserve fair restitution.

Understanding How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works