Being involved in any type of accident caused by the negligence of another can be a devastating experience. The injuries suffered, damage to property, and the mounting medical and legal concerns can all be daunting prospects. But when an accident results in the unthinkable—the death of a loved one—the scenario goes from daunting to completely life-altering.
Losing a loved one is never easy. But losing someone due to another’s actions is even more unimaginable. While there may be no singular path for navigating grief, there are actions you can take to try and make the process more manageable for you and your family. And there are certainly correct legal steps to take to make sure the responsible party is held accountable, and that you are somehow compensated for your loss.
Coping with a Loved One’s Wrongful Death
The sudden loss of a family member is incredibly difficult to experience. You may feel angry, overwhelmed, or depressed. There may be no easy way to cope with the loss, but there are a few things to try in an attempt to make the process a little more emotionally navigable.
First, it’s important to understand that coming to terms with your loss will take time—and that’s okay. There is no “correct” length of time for grieving, as grief is felt and processed differently by everyone. Even members within your own family may grieve for varying lengths of time. It’s important to try and be there for one another and understand that each person needs their own timeline to process things—including you.
Also try to actively seek out a support system to help you through this process. Whether that system includes people in your immediate household, family from out of town, or close friends, surround yourself with people who will not only be there for you emotionally, but have the ability to help you physically as needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with everyday tasks, like dishes or laundry, from those who offer their support. It’s what they’re there for, and they want you to lean on them. Allowing them to help you develop some kind of new routine will also help you figure out how your life and the roles in your family may be changing.
And finally, try to secure some kind of closure for the death of your loved one. This often involves fully understanding why and how they died, and participating in some kind of celebration of their life, such as a funeral or other end-of-life event. Though it may be difficult wrap your head around the details that took your loved one from you, it has been found that when humans have reasonable answers to sudden events that occur in their lives, they become easier to cope with.
Reaching a feeling of closure can also very often involve seeking professional legal advice or representation. The right wrongful death attorney can help you understand if you have a wrongful death claim to file against the responsible party, and what to expect should you follow through with filing it.
Knowing When You May Have a Wrongful Death Claim
Because it never feels right to lose someone you love, every death may feel entirely “wrong.” But as they pertain to the legal system, wrongful deaths are most often defined as the loss of human life resulting from the negligent actions of another. That being the case, a wrongful death claim can occur from such incidents as:
- Car accidents, or when a severe crash caused by another driver who was driving negligently or recklessly results in death.
- Construction site mishaps whereby proper protocols and regulations aren’t adhered to by the construction site or company, resulting in the loss of life.
- Medical malpractice that could include examples such as mistakes made during surgery, infant delivery, misdiagnosis, or improperly prescribed medication.
- Premises liability accidents such as slip and falls, electrocution, or other dangerous circumstances left unattended by property owners or undisclosed to visitors.
- Product liability defects, which can include a variety of types of physical products that don’t perform in the manner advertised by the manufacturer, resulting in injury that leads to death.
- Nursing home abuse or neglect, which may involve underfeeding, improper delegation of medications, or physical mishandling of residents that leads to death.
This list isn’t exhaustive, but it does include some of the most common wrongful death scenarios. Of course, within each of these scenarios, it’s necessary to fully understand exactly how the victim’s injuries led to loss of life, and what the direct cause of those injuries was.
If it’s believed the victim would have survived if not for the behavior of the third party involved in the accident, it’s feasible to assume you have a wrongful death claim to file. And for this to be the case, death does not always have to occur immediately. In some cases, the third party’s negligence may result in sickness or injury that is prolonged over weeks or months before a death results. Under certain circumstances, you may still be able to file for compensation for that loss of life.
What to Expect from a Wrongful Death Claim
When it comes to filing a wrongful death claim or lawsuit, that right is generally reserved for the immediate family members of the deceased, including a surviving spouse, child, or other legal dependent. If the victim is a child, their parents or siblings may also have the same right to file.
To successfully prove a wrongful death claim, it’s necessary to show:
- The defendant (accused responsible party) owed the victim a duty of care.
- The defendant breached this duty of care.
- This breach resulted in the victim’s death and financial damages associated with that death.
For example, if the wrongful death was the result of a severe car accident, then it would be necessary to prove that the other driver had a legal responsibility to drive safely and obey traffic laws, that they broke said laws or otherwise took part in negligent behavior, and their behavior caused the car accident that led to the death of the victim. Finally it needs to be proven that this death has financially affected the dependents left behind.
Surviving family members and other dependents of the deceased victim may be able to receive compensation for a variety of damages as a result of the accident, including:
- Medical and hospital expenses
- End-of-life expenses like funeral and burial costs
- Loss of future earnings, such as loss of the victim’s income
- Loss of medical, retirement, and pension benefits
- Loss of other non-monetary household contributions, like child-rearing
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of love and companionship
Not all of the above damages are always available in every wrongful death situation, because every person and their family dynamic is different. Determining exactly the loss you have suffered in losing your loved one and presenting it thoroughly to those responsible is a task best delegated to the right wrongful death attorney.
The Whisler Law Firm has years of experience helping the families of wrongful death victims gather all the evidence and documentation needed to make reasonable requests for receiving damages. We know the intricacies of the laws and systems involved, but first and foremost, we care about you, your family, and what you’re going through. That’s why we fight so hard for every client, every day. Call our office at 833-529-5677 or use our online form to schedule a free consultation with our team. We want to help you navigate this difficult time in your life.