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What Should I Do After my Loved One Died from Wrongful Death?
According to the CDC, more than 170,000 people die in unintentional accidents each year. The death of a loved one is tragic, and can lead to serious impacts on someone’s life, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as a significant loss in a family’s income.
If someone you love has died in an accident, you should immediately contact an experienced accident attorney to determine if you’re eligible for compensation. While working with an attorney is key, the more you know about your rights, the better.
In this article, we’ll review:
- What should I do if a loved one has died in an accident?
- Who can file a wrongful death claim?
- What are the most common types of wrongful death scenarios?
- How can a lawyer help me in a wrongful death scenario?
What Should I Do If A Loved One Has Died in An Accident?
If someone you loved has died in an accident, there are several steps you should take, including:
- Don’t accept any insurance settlements: In many cases, an insurance company will offer family members a small settlement that is far less than what they deserve.
- Speak to an attorney immediately: An experienced wrongful death attorney can tell you exactly what to do in the aftermath of a loved one’s death, including what to say (and not to say) to your insurance company.
- Collect as much information as possible: While thinking about a tragic accident may be the last thing on your mind after a loved one dies, getting more information can help your case. For instance, if you believe your loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, get their medical records as quickly as possible. Or, if your loved one was involved in a car accident, your attorney may ask you to take pictures of the scene or speak to bystanders and record their testimonies.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
Unfortunately, just because you share a close relationship with someone, it does not mean you can file a wrongful death suit. In general, to file a claim, you must be a representative of the deceased person’s estate, filing a claim on behalf of:
- The children, spouse, or parents of the deceased individual
- Other blood relatives or siblings who may be financially dependent on the deceased individual
An unmarried domestic partner can generally file a claim if they are listed as the representative of the deceased person’s estate. Despite this, they are typically entitled to significantly less compensation than if they were married to the deceased individual.
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What Are The Most Common Kinds of Wrongful Death Scenarios?
The CDC lists the most common types of accidental deaths (using 2019 data) as:
- Unintentional fall deaths: 39,433
- Vehicle accident deaths: 37,595
- Poisoning deaths: 65,773
However, despite this data, the most common type of wrongful death scenario in the United States is actually likely to be medical malpractice. A Johns Hopkins’ study estimated that around 250,000 people die of preventable medical errors in the United States alone, with other studies estimating that number at more than 400,000.
Medical malpractice can be difficult to prove, but it is possible. In general, to prove medical malpractice, a victim must prove each of the four elements listed below:
- Duty of Care: This means that the healthcare provider had a direct, pre-existing relationship with the victim (i.e. a doctor helping out in a random emergency outside of work may not have a duty of care.)
- Dereliction: This means that the healthcare provider operated far outside of standard medical procedures. In other words, another “reasonable” provider would have acted much differently in the situation.
- Direct Causation: For direct causation to occur, the injuries sustained by the victim must be a direct result of medical provider negligence or error.
Damages: The victim must show that the injuries they sustained caused them some combination of physical, emotional, psychological, or financial hardship.
What Should I Do If A Loved One Died At Work?
Work-related death claims can be somewhat different than other wrongful death scenarios, as they often involve dealing with workers comp insurance. Like with most other liability scenarios, the workers comp insurance company may attempt to prove the fatal injury was not work-related, even if it was. A successful workers’ compensation claim can provide damages related to:
- Wage benefits/lost wages: In Florida, surviving spouses can get up to half of a deceased individual’s standard wages, while children can get up 16.66% each. Dependent parents can get up to 25% of the victim’s regular wage, while dependent siblings are eligible for up to 15% of that wage.
- Educational benefits: Surviving spouses may be able to claim tuition benefits for 80 semester hours at a community college or 1,800 hours of career center training. Alternatively, they may be able to get certain community college, university, or career training fees waived.
- Funeral expenses: In addition to lost wage and educational benefits, surviving family members can get up to $7,500 for a family member’s funeral.
If Someone You Love Died in An Accident, Contact Gallagher & Hagopian Today
If someone you love has died in an accident, it can change your life forever. Mental, emotional, and financial challenges can pile up, leaving you unsure of where to turn for help. Fortunately, an expert accident attorney can advocate for your rights, giving you the time to mentally and emotionally heal.
Gallagher & Hagopian’s team of expert wrongful death lawyers has won more than $100 million for our clients. We will look at your case at no cost to you. If we take you on as a client, we will do everything we can to get you the maximum possible financial compensation. Call us today to learn more about how we can fight for your rights.