Wrongful Death: The Top Signs You Should Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer
It is difficult enough to deal with the death of a loved one when the cause is an illness or simply old age. When your spouse, parent, child, or other relative is killed because of someone else’s actions, it can be positively devastating.
Fortunately, you have recourse in such a situation. In order to redress your loved one’s untimely death and be made whole again, consider bringing a lawsuit against the negligent party. It all starts with hiring a wrongful death lawyer.
To understand what wrongful death is, it’s necessary to know the definition of negligence. According to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, it’s defined as a “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.”
In plain English? Negligence occurs when someone acts carelessly, resulting in harm to a person or damage to a property.
For example, let’s say that a dog owner fails to property restrain her dog while taking it for a walk. The dog then bites a passerby. In this scenario, the owner could be held liable for the injury, because she was supposed to have her dog on a leash. Not doing so is an example of negligence.
Negligence is at the heart of all aspects of personal injury law, including wrongful death.
In a court of law, they plaintiff must prove four aspects to show that the defendant was negligent. These are:
- Duty. Under the circumstances of the personal injury or wrongful death, the defendant owed a legal duty to the plaintiff
- Breach. That duty was breached by the defendant’s actions or lack of actions
- Causation. These actions led, directly or indirectly, to the injury or damage
- Damages. Harm or injury to a person, or damage to property, arose as a result of the defendant’s actions.
If he can’t meet the burden of proof for all of these points, the plaintiff does not have a valid negligence case.
This requirement applies whether the plaintiff suffered from a dog bite, slip and fall, vehicular accident, or the wrongful death of a loved one.
What Are the Signs That You May Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
When you bring action against a person, company, organization, or other entity alleging wrongful death, it is a civil case rather than a criminal one. In some situations, the defendant will have already been tried in criminal court. Remember that the outcome of a success civil trial is monetary damages, and peace of mind, rather than incarceration.
The Deceased Was a Homicide Victim
It may surprise you to learn that homicide can be considered a form of wrongful death. Many people think, mistakenly, that negligence cannot be deliberate. However, the courts view “duty of care” as extending to the duty not to kill other people.
If your loved one was murdered, you can bring a civil suit of wrongful death. This is true regardless of whether the defendant was acquitted or convicted.
There Was a Vehicular Accident
Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are just that — accidents — but that doesn’t mean that no one was culpable. In fact, there are a number of people and entities that may be found negligent, and that therefore may be named as the defendant in a lawsuit.
In addition to other drivers involved in the accident, it’s possible to name the highway department, the manufacturers of the vehicles or their constituent parts, a company or business that the driver worked for, and others.
Your Loved One Died While Under a Doctor’s Care
Medical malpractice is another fairly common variety of negligence. All health care professionals owe a duty of care to their patients. When that duty is breached, it can lead to wrongful death. That’s why doctors, dentists, and other health care providers carry medical malpractice insurance.
Of course, you will have to prove that there was indeed negligence at play in your loved one’s death. This can be difficult, especially in cases where the deceased was ill or injured to begin with. There are some clear-cut cases of malpractice, however. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if a surgical tool was left inside the body, if a medication error was committed, or if the professional in question failed to diagnose a condition that would have been apparent to others in his position.
A Workplace Accident Occurred
Was your spouse, parent, child, or sibling killed while on the job? Naturally, some professions are inherently more dangerous than others. Jobs like law enforcement, farming, construction, and factory work carry more risk. Not everyone who dies on the job is a victim of negligence.
You will need to prove that the company, supervisor, manufacturer or other entity was negligent. This could be failing to provide safety equipment, using machines or equipment that were faulty or not properly inspected, flouting safety rules, or other causes.
Other Types of Negligence That Can Lead to Wrongful Death
These are by no means the only situations that can result in wrongful death. Landlords, businesses, schools, store owners, service providers, even government agencies and municipalities can all be found negligent for a huge variety of reasons.
If you suspect that negligence led to the death of a loved one, your best bet is to schedule a consultation with a wrongful death lawyer. They offer complimentary, no-obligation consultations. During this consultation, you can apprise them of the details of the case and ask any questions you might have.
In many instances, the attorney will be able to tell you right then and there if he or she believes you have a legitimate case. They will go over next steps with you, too.
Another benefit of personal injury lawyers is that they work on contingency. This means that you don’t have to pay a fee or retainer upfront. You only pay when the attorney has settled your case out of court or won the lawsuit.