Losing a loved one is devastating, especially if the loss was preventable. If you lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, you might be entitled to a wrongful death settlement. These cases can be complex and emotionally wrought, so it is a good idea to have experienced attorneys on your side.
Here’s what you need to know if you wonder whether you are entitled to a wrongful death settlement.
What Are Wrongful Death Settlements?
Wrongful death cases are situations in which another person or entity's negligent or unlawful act caused your loved one’s death. For instance, drunk or distracted driving that results in the other driver’s death can be considered wrongful death.
Workplaces that fail to comply with health and safety standards resulting in the death of an employee can also be held legally responsible for the employee’s wrongful death. The settlement of a wrongful death claim represents the financial loss you suffered due to the death of your loved one, as well as any emotional loss.
When Can Wrongful Death Settlements Be Filed?
It depends upon the state as every state has different laws. For instance, in Ohio a wrongful-death claim has a limitations period of two years from the date of death. Every loss of a loved one can feel unjust, even if no one was at fault. Before you file a wrongful death action, it is essential to consider whether or not it qualifies as a wrongful death case. A few requirements must first be met to have a claim for wrongful death in your case.
The Victim Died Due to Negligence Caused by the Defendant
The most important factor is a clear correlation between the defendant’s negligence and the wrongful death victim’s death.
For instance, say the defendant ran a red light because they were texting while driving, thus ramming into the victim’s vehicle and killing them. This shows clear negligence on the defendant's part that led to an otherwise avoidable death. If the defendant had been watching the road at the time of death, they would have noticed the red light and presumably stopped. The accident would never have happened if not for the at-fault party's negligent actions.
The Defendant Violated a Breach of Duty
By law, drivers must watch the road. They must slow for yellow lights, stop at red lights, and go when the light turns green. If a distracted driver ran through a red light that they failed to notice, this is a clear breach of duty.
On the other hand, what would happen if a pedestrian preparing to cross the street noticed a car moving toward the pedestrian in front of them but failed to pull that person out of the way in time? Although there is a possibility they may have been able to prevent the death, there is no breach of duty to either the pedestrian in front of them or the car’s driver. As such, this would not qualify as a wrongful death case.
You Can Prove Suffering and Financial Damages
Financial damages are most commonly experienced by a spouse or significant other. If you share financial responsibilities with the victim, such as a mortgage or the care of your children, you may suddenly find yourself without a substantial source of income.
But financial damages are not the only damages that can be suffered in a wrongful death case. Burial expenses or medical costs may also be considered, impacting how insurance companies handle your claim.
You may also be eligible for emotional damages, such as loss of companionship/intimacy or pain and suffering. If you have had to go to grief counseling due to the loss of your loved one or your emotional health has been impacted in other clear ways, you may be able to prove emotional pain and suffering and mental anguish.
Calculate Fair Compensation of Compensatory Damages
Your wrongful death payout will be broken down into two categories: financial and emotional. In extreme cases, there may also be punitive damages meant to deter the negligent action from happening in the future. Financial damages will be easy to prove, especially if your loved one provided a steady source of income.
Emotional damages are more nebulous and difficult to quantify, but they can be proven and compensated in many wrongful death cases. Your wrongful death attorney can help you develop a strategy for proving emotional damages in a lawsuit for wrongful death.
Review Your Financial Losses
Following the death of a loved one, there will be immediate financial losses, such as hospital bills and burial and funeral costs. In many cases, the financial losses may go beyond that.
If you have a two-income household or, worse, your deceased loved one was the primary earner in the household, you should take into account that loss of income. If you have children together, that loss of income is even more crucial because childcare costs need to be considered.
Evaluate the Value of Emotional Losses
Loss of companionship is the primary emotional loss in the event of a deceased loved one. In the case of spouses, you may also be eligible for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship, support, and intimacy that you may have shared with your spouse before their death. If your loved one was your primary caregiver, this is also an important emotional loss to consider.
Take stock of your emotional health before and after the death occurred. Has your work suffered? Have you had to attend therapy or grief counseling due to the loss? Have you been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression? These are all things that should be considered when evaluating your emotional loss.
Hire Wrongful Death Lawyers and Receive Fair Settlement
The loss of a loved one is a hard enough thing to have to bear. So you should not need to go through your wrongful death lawsuit alone.
Wrongful death attorneys, like those at The Moore Law Firm, can handle your case with sensitivity and care. Our lawyers will help ensure you receive a fair settlement for your devastating loss.
Contact us today to learn more about our wrongful death claim services or to schedule a consultation.