Avoid These 6 Mistakes with a Wrongful Death Case

Virginia law grants family members a right to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit after a loved one dies. However, there are certain critical mistakes which families should avoid if they want to sustain a claim and achieve a measure of justice. Some mistakes can be cleaned up if you hire an attorney quickly enough, but other errors will completely sink your case.

At Correll Law Firm, our wrongful death attorney is available to talk with anyone about a tragic death which claimed the life of a spouse, child, or parent. Our firm can handle a wrongful death case from start to finish, including negotiation and litigation. Below, we highlight 6 mistakes to avoid. Contact us to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in a private consultation.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Speak with an Attorney

The statute of limitations for wrongful death is only two years. The clock begins on the day of your loved one’s death. If you fail to file a lawsuit before the deadline, then you lose out on the ability to file a claim at all. You will not receive any compensation—no matter how responsible the defendant is for the tragedy.

Call Correll Law Firm. Technically, the estate’s personal representative files a wrongful death claim. However, that could be a family member. In any event, the potential beneficiaries have a role to play in these types of cases, and you deserve legal advice to help you understand your options.

Don’t Expect the Prosecutor to Bring this Claim

Virginia law allows families to bring a lawsuit whenever a death is wrongful. Some wrongful deaths are accidental: think of a careless driver who was speeding when he hit a child crossing the road. But other deaths are criminal, intentional acts, like homicide, and the prosecution might bring criminal charges.

Because wrongful death cases are a type of civil suit, the state does not file them. You should quickly contact an experienced wrongful death attorney at Correll Law Firm to discuss.

Avoid Focusing on Only One Defendant

You can sue anyone who has contributed to the death. For example, your loved one might have died in a violent attack at a hotel or motel. Although you can certainly sue the assailant, you might also be able to sue the motel for negligent security. That is an excellent way to increase the amount of money available.

If your loved one died in a truck accident, then the trucker could be at fault for speeding or drunk driving. But we might also sue the trucking company and even a mechanic if there was a defect on the truck which contributed to the fatal wreck.

An experienced wrongful death attorney knows how to cast a wide net to catch all potential defendants. Doing so makes it more likely you will receive fair compensation for the loss.

Decline to Accept a Settlement Too Quickly

In the typical wrongful death case, the estate negotiates with the defendant’s insurer. If your loved one died in a truck accident, the trucking company is often the defendant. Their insurer takes the lead on settlement talks. If your loved one died in a hotel accident, the hotel’s liability insurer takes the lead.

These insurance companies seek to settle cases for as little as possible. Be skeptical of any settlement offer. The reality is that you can often get more by having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf.

Damages in a wrongful death case include:

  • What the deceased would have earned had he or she survived;
  • Your grief and sorrow at losing your loved one’s companionship and society;
  • Loss of services provided by the deceased;
  • Loss of care and protection;
  • Medical bills and related expenses to treat the deceased’s final injury; and
  • Funeral costs.

Some of these losses, like funeral costs, are easy to calculate because you get a bill or receipt. But grief, loss of protection, and sorrow are subjective. Insurance companies usually offer very little for these subjective losses—at least when they reach out with an initial offer. At Correll Law Firm, our wrongful death lawyer knows how to negotiate to increase the amount to something that is fair. Never accept a settlement without showing it to us first.

Avoid Fighting with Your Family

Fights only increase the stress that everyone feels. They aren’t productive. Also, family might need to work together to bring forward helpful evidence for the case.

Some family members want to fight over the proceeds of any settlement. When family members can’t agree, a judge might determine how to divide the settlement between family members. You should consult an attorney who can advocate for your best interests.

Do Not Destroy Relevant Evidence

The evidence we need to bring a claim will depend on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. For example, a defective product might have electrocuted them or caught on fire. You should avoid throwing this product into the trash since it will serve as the centerpiece of a product liability case. Hold onto any item that is relevant.

Other helpful evidence includes statements your loved one might have made. Not everyone dies immediately after an accident, and your loved one could have bravely hung on for days or weeks. We will want to know whatever they had to say, since they will not be around when we negotiate a settlement.

Correll Law Firm Can Handle Your Wrongful Death Case

Please reach out to our firm to discuss your legal options. Losing a loved one is a major turning point in every person’s life. It is perfectly normal to feel disoriented and unsure of next steps. Many people do not want to be bothered with legal issues when they are grieving.

Still, a wrongful death claim could secure compensation for you and your family. It is essential to meet all deadlines to protect your legal rights to compensation. Call Correll Law Firm, 540-535-2005. A consultation with our wrongful death lawyer is free.