The negligence of a doctor during medical treatment or the negligence of a driver leading to the death of a loved one through an intersection car accident are two examples of scenarios that can lead to a wrongful death. When you lose a loved one because of the negligence of someone else, then as survivors of the deceased, you have a right to pursue compensation through a wrongful death claim.
All states have a statute governing wrongful death claims within their jurisdiction. Despite the various laws applied by each state when handling wrongful death claims, one thing seems to unify all the states: the complexity of wrongful death cases.
Due to the complex issues that wrongful death cases present, it is advisable for anyone seeking a claim to hire a competent wrongful death lawyer. Here are some of the reasons why wrongful death cases are so complex:
Proving Economic Damages
One of the most important components of a wrongful death claim is economic damages. When calculating economic damages, the concept of net accumulations comes into the picture. These calculations arrive at a sum reflecting the total amount the deceased would have accumulated during their lifetime were it not for the wrongful death.
Arriving at an accurate calculation requires the help of experienced economists that have dealt with such calculations before. A good lawyer will take the stress of finding experienced economists off your shoulders. Most lawyers work with a network of experts, making the work easier and thereby expediting the claim.
A Narrow Definition of “Survivor”
When a statute gives a narrow definition of who is a survivor, the first issue for a wrongful death claim becomes establishing the rightful survivors. Using the case scenario of Florida, Chapter 768 Section 21 of 2011, Florida Statutes require that all beneficiaries be indicated in the complaint together with their relationship to the deceased. The gap in the statute is clear because the exact definition of a survivor or beneficiary is not given. The definition relied upon is very complex and confusing for a layperson to understand. Some families end up with legal hurdles because a decision on the rightful beneficiaries can’t be reached.
In worst-case scenarios, wrongful death claims attract busybodies who present themselves as beneficiaries seeking a piece of the compensation. It takes the help of a competent lawyer to peacefully identify the survivors and beneficiaries of the deceased. The role of an attorney is to interpret the law; therefore, where a statute has given a thin definition, your attorney already knows the legal sources that can put the issues to rest.
Urgency Due to Statutory Limitations
While most torts, especially personal injuries, have a statutory limitation of up to four years from the date of the injury in which to file a lawsuit. The tort of wrongful death presents a time limit of two years in some states. During the first two years of the death of a loved one, families are likely still in grief, and the mourning stage is still fresh. Despite the mental state of the families, if a wrongful death claim is to be filed, it has to be done as soon as possible. The sooner an investigation is launched in a wrongful death claim, the higher the chances of a favorable outcome.
A case like wrongful death arising from medical negligence requires thorough investigation and research. The medical profession comprises individuals that are often on the move. A key witness that would help prove your case today might wake up tomorrow and decide to move to another hospital. Therefore the best time for investigation and subsequent filing of a wrongful death claim is during the early stages soon after the death of your loved one.
If you have recently lost a loved one and intend to institute a wrongful death claim, always remember that a good attorney is the support system you need to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the entire process.