Was Your Loved One a Victim of Wrongful Death?
When a person or legal entity causes of the death of another person, due to their negligence or wrongdoing, the act is called “wrongful death” under the law. The family of the deceased may have a legal ability, called standing, to bring a wrongful death lawsuit and potentially receive monetary compensation for being deprived of the deceased’s company, companionship, and earning capacity.
Wrongful Death Cases
Many steps are involved to prepare the lawsuit and develop a strategy for trial, so the expertise of a Sonoma attorney who handles wrongful death cases is essential. Obtaining proof requires investigation of the incident that caused the death to develop witnesses and evidence to prove the defendant was in whole or in part responsible for the death.
Who is entitled to wrongful death compensation?In every state, a victim’s spouse can file a wrongful death lawsuit, as are parents of any child victims. However, other laws vary, such as whether an adult child can file a lawsuit on behalf of a parent or whether other relatives like siblings count as next of kin.
How are wrongful death settlements paid out?The methods that settlements are paid out can be negotiated with the defense. These can include lump-sum payments or installment payments. The money can also be placed in trust if the beneficiaries are children.
How long does it take to settle wrongful death claims?This depends on the nature of each case. While some cases may have overwhelming evidence and a defense that is eager to settle, other cases require extensive negotiations and investigation of the evidence. A case with a lot of compensation on the line can take years to settle or reach a verdict. An attorney can help set proper expectations for the process.
How long do you have to sue for wrongful death?Each state has a statute of limitations, with the majority being two or three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. However, when the clock starts ticking is also different in many state laws. You should talk with an attorney as quickly as possible, so you do not lose your right to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Top Questions to Ask When Hiring an Attorney
- How many years have you been practicing law? How long have you practiced law in the local area?
- How many cases similar to mine have you handled in the past?
- What is the likely outcome for my case?
In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.
What to Expect from an Initial Consultation
- Seek to determine whether the attorney can represent you. There is no one-size-fits-all legal solution and it may turn out your needs are better served by an attorney in a different specialization.
- It’s important to find a legal ally who is both competent in the law and someone you can trust to protect your interests.
- Discuss how the practice’s billing works and discuss possible additional charges or fees that may arise during or after the resolution of your case.
An attorney consultation should provide you with enough information so that you can make an informed decision on whether to proceed with legal help.
How to Find the Right Attorney
- Determine the area of law that relates to your issue. Attorneys specialize in specific practice areas around legal issues within the broad field of law.
- Seek out recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues. A successful attorney or practice will typically have many satisfied clients.
- Set up consultation appointments to get a better understanding of your case as well as gauge your comfort level with different attorneys. Find the attorney who is the right fit for your needs.
Common legal terms explained
Pro se – This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.
Statute – Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.
Subject matter jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.