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Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy. Family and friends go through multiple stages of grief during their time of mourning. In some cases, families must learn that the death of their loved one was due to someone else's neglect. In these instances, their experience is often filled with anger and despair. Depending on the cause of the death, the consequences can affect us for years or even decades after a wrongful death accident.
Far beyond the psychological trauma that family members have to live with after the unexpected death of a loved one is the financial burden they grapple with. Family members are often left hopeless when they lose their primary provider, but financial worries should be the least of a family’s concern when going through such a difficult time.
Unjust death claims may be brought against individuals or entities. Some examples of wrongful death claims include, but are not limited to, medical malpractice, medical device failure, car accidents, safety negligence, and nursing home abuse. A settlement or award granted to families can help them overcome the burden of medical costs, mortgage obligations, and other financial obligations.
Wrongful death cases have a few basic elements. These elements must be proven in court to prove that the defendant is responsible for the death. The first element is a breach of a legal obligation. For example, a person may have missed a stop sign and caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person. It can be proven that the person has failed in their duty to comply with traffic rules. The deceased's family must also be able to prove that the defendant has breached their duty to comply with the law. The family also has a duty to prove the causal link, which is evidence of how the breach of duty by the accused resulted in the death of a loved one.
There are also several losses to be considered when considering a wrongful death. For example, there are customary medical and burial costs related to services that should have been provided to the deceased to save his life or to care for his corpse. Any fees paid to lawyers are also refundable in the event of culpable death.
If the deceased has minor children, the loss of parental custody is something that can be accounted for in an unlawful death claim. Grief is a difficult matter, and while children are often considered resilient, no one really knows how the unexpected death of a parent will affect them over time. It could be argued that the decisions that minor children will make in the future and the opportunities they may miss may arise from not having a parent whom they have lost to guide them.
There are many states that have limits on the amount of reimbursement a family can receive. Generally speaking, judges and a jury will decide how much compensation the victim's family receives. There are times when the victim's family attorney can negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company. There is a statute of limitations for wrongful death and the statute of limitations varies from state to state, so it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
In cases where a person has lost a life partner, courts can award damages because the surviving party has lost someone who made up most of their life. The courts explain that the loss of the deceased is a person who can never be replaced, and this void will affect the surviving party for the rest of their lives.
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