When you’re faced with a loved one’s sudden death that was the result of someone else’s negligence, you’re sure to have many questions. A Kansas City wrongful death attorney will be able to answer even your most complex inquiries, which is why it’s important to hire one as soon as possible. Until then, though, these FAQs will help get you started.
Wrongful Death Attorney FAQs
How Long Does a Lawsuit Usually Take?
Unfortunately, there is no set answer to this question because each wrongful death case is unique. While some cases are settled within a few months, more complicated cases may take years. We recommend you plan for your case to last between one and four years. Certainly, we expect to settle most cases before that length of time passes, but without specific details, there’s no better estimate. A consultation with our lawyers, though, can help provide more insight.
You might think that four years is too long to drag out a wrongful death case, and it is a significant time commitment. However, we want you to get the maximum compensation that you’re entitled to so that your loved one’s death isn’t in vain. Certainly, no amount of money is going to bring that person back, but you and they deserve justice, and we won’t settle for less.
Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Handled Without a Lawyer?
While there is nothing preventing you from representing yourself in a wrongful death lawsuit, we strongly advise against it. Mainly, this is because the legal system is extremely complex when it comes to suing someone else for negligence leading to death. There are many nuances to filing and litigating this type of lawsuit, and an experienced attorney will be able to navigate the potential pitfalls and stumbling blocks that can come up in even the most basic of lawsuits.
You’re going through one of the most difficult times in your life right now as you deal with the loss of a loved one. Emotions can get in the way of how you handle your lawsuit. By hiring an attorney, you’ll be able to hand them the burden of investigating the claim, communicating with insurance companies, and filing the paperwork related to your case. You can focus on mourning and healing, which is all you should be doing right now.
How Do I Pay For a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
The last thing you should be worried about right now is how you’re going to afford to bring a lawsuit against the party responsible for your loved one’s death. That’s why we operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us nothing until we settle your case or you win a financial award from a judge or jury. This fee structure allows you to take advantage of all the resources we have available to help with your case.
For instance, you may need an accident reconstructionist to recreate a motor vehicle accident to illustrate to a jury what actually happened. This is one of the most effective ways to show who was at fault. However, reconstructionists can be very expensive to hire, so it may be beyond your means to gain the services of one unless you retain a wrongful death attorney who can hire them on your behalf at no upfront cost to you.
Who Actually Pays In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
One of the most complex parts of a wrongful death lawsuit is determining who to sue, since there are likely many parties involved in the case, from the actual person or people responsible for the death to the insurance companies that insure that person or people. Typically, the insurance company that provides the insurance for the person or people deemed responsible for the death would pay any settlements or awards in a wrongful death case.
However, there are times when a person is under-insured, which means they do not have enough insurance to cover your damages. In this case, you may have to sue the person directly to receive adequate compensation. Occasionally, there may be more than one insurance company to deal with, especially if the driver of the other vehicle was driving someone else’s car. These complexities, among numerous others, show just how valuable an experienced wrongful death lawyer can be.
Are Punitive Damages Allowed In a Wrongful Death Case?
The answer to this depends on a few factors, including the other person’s insurance policy stipulations and the state laws where you live. In some places, you will not be able to recover punitive damages, especially from the insurance companies, since they often exclude them from their policies. However, in some states, the person responsible may have to pay these damages themselves if a judge or jury awards punitive damages in a court case.
The best way to ensure you receive adequate compensation, whether it’s solely for economic losses or it includes pain and suffering losses, is to retain an experienced attorney to advise you along the way. They will make sure you don’t accept a settlement that’s too low, and they’ll help you determine whether to seek punitive damages or not. These are the decisions that wrongful death lawyers are skilled in helping you make.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
There are many circumstances that could result in a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of the most common situations include the following.
- A motor vehicle accident (either against another driver or the automobile manufacturer)
- Medical negligence (including defective medical devices)
- Workplace-related deaths
- Nursing home deaths caused by abuse or neglect
- Construction site deaths
- Defective products
- Defective warning labels
- Deaths from violent acts
These are not the only instances in which a wrongful death lawsuit may be warranted, so if your situation doesn’t fit any of the above categories, that’s okay. You may still be entitled to compensation, but you’ll need to have a consultation with a wrongful death lawyer to determine the merits of your case. Fortunately, we offer a free initial consultation to gather the details of your case and make that determination.
What Damages Can Be Recovered In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In most states, you are able to recover expenses related to the funeral and burial of your loved one and lost financial support that you would have gained had your loved one lived. Some states may also allow you to recover losses related to a prospective inheritance and for the total lifetime earning capacity of your loved one. There may also be the possibility that you can recover losses for pain and suffering, society and companionship, and other non-economic damages.
The damages you will be able to recover are specific to your case and your location. For this reason, it’s important to seek the counsel of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. Not only will they provide you with an expected settlement amount, or at least the amount they believe your case is worth, but they’ll also ensure you follow all the procedures to protect your rights to recover all damages to which you’re entitled.
Finding yourself in need of a wrongful death lawyer is not something you ever expect to happen. However, if you are in that position, we can help. Contact Yonke Law LLC to schedule your initial consultation today to begin the journey toward justice for your loved one.