Dealing with the untimely death of a loved one can be an incredibly difficult situation. Unfortunately, there are times when a death is the result of the negligence of someone else, and the remaining family can be awarded compensation. For the family though, having to wade through an incredibly difficult legal process can be the last thing they want to deal with. Because of that, it can be very easy to make a mistake. Here's a look at some of the most common mistakes families make with a wrongful death lawsuit.
Mistake #1: Assuming Anyone Can File
There are a lot of facets to a wrongful death lawsuit, one of which is who can actually initiate the suit. While many people assume that anyone can, that's not the case. The specifics vary from state to state, but in general, only a spouse, child or parent can file the suit. These laws are in place to prevent unscrupulous people from attempting to cash in on compensation. In some states, other relatives can file, but only if they can prove that they're suffering financially because of a death.
Mistake #2: Not Filing Your Suit Within the Allowable Time Frame
Every state has their own statute of limitations on how long after someone passes away a wrongful death suit can be filed. In most states, this is two years, but some states are as low as one and some as high as three. Once your state's time limit passes, you're not eligible to seek compensation. One caveat to this, though, is that the timer doesn't always start at death. If new information about someone's death is discovered (like medical malpractice), the time period starts again. But still, this too varies by state.
Mistake #3: Assuming That Wrongful Death is Only for Accidents
When many people think about a wrongful death lawsuit, they think of workplace accidents or medical malpractice. But these suits cover any death that was at the negligence of misconduct of another person. This even includes murder. In fact, many wrongful death lawsuits come in the wake of criminal trials. Many factors go in to determining the outcome of a case like this, but whether an act was on purpose or not isn't one of them.
Going through the process of a wrongful death lawsuit isn't an easy process, and it's not something you should attempt to do alone. Having an attorney, such as those at Hardee and Hardee LLP, on your side can make the process incredibly easier and will actually give you a better chance of winning your case.