Wrongful Death Lawyer
Losing a loved one not only causes a great deal of emotional pain, but can also leave you with significant financial difficulty. While filing a wrongful death claim can not bring back your lost loved one, it can provide you with much-needed funds as you rebuild your life without that individual. If you suffer the loss of a loved one in an accident due to another party’s negligence, having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side can make the claims process easier and provide you with vital support as you seek compensation for your loss.
Wrongful Death Claims: Our Results
At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP, we have helped many of our clients achieve positive resolutions in wrongful death claims, providing them with vitally needed funds that make it possible for them to rebuild their lives after losing a loved one in an accident. Look at our past results:
- $5.7 million for the wrongful death of an eight-year-old in a runaway school bus accident
- $3.25 million after a fire death in an apartment
- $2.4 million awarded to the family of a victim in a church van accident
Our results from past claims cannot guarantee the results of your personal injury claim, even in relatively similar circumstances. If you have lost a loved one, however, you deserve an experienced team of attorneys who will fight to seek the compensation you deserve for your loss. At Jacoby & Meyers, LLP,, we fight tirelessly to achieve the compensation our clients deserve.
The Basics of Wrongful Death Claims
When you lose a loved one in a serious accident, you may need to file a wrongful death claim to help seek compensation for your loss. You do not have to have an attorney to file a wrongful death claim; however, working with an attorney can offer you advantages as you move through the claims process. Not only that, an attorney will protect your interests and that of your family members, providing you with a source of support entirely on your side throughout the claims process.
Do I have grounds for a wrongful death claim?
Whether you have grounds for a wrongful death claim depends on a couple of different factors.
Your relationship to the deceased. Generally—and this varies from state to state—the closest relatives to the deceased or the personal representative of the estate have the right to file a wrongful death claim. This usually means:
- The spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased, if no spouse
- The parents of the deceased, if no spouse or children
- The estate or its personal representative
Other family members may, in some cases, have the right to file a wrongful death claim if they relied financially or physically on support from the deceased: a disabled sibling in the care of the deceased or an elderly family member receiving support, for example. The family of the deceased can file only one wrongful death claim, even with multiple individuals impacted by the loss of that individual.
If one family member accepts a wrongful death settlement, as in the case of several adult children of a deceased parent, it can prevent others from receiving any compensation for the loss of that individual. The family will need to work together to decide how to handle the loss of a loved one.
An experienced wrongful death attorney can help you work through all of these complexities, including the laws that govern your state and your situation.
How your loved one died. In general, if your loved one would have had grounds for a wrongful death claim had they lived, you will have grounds for a wrongful death claim after death. Wrongful death claims can include many different types of accidents.
- Construction accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Product liability accidents
- Premises liability accidents
- Auto accidents, including truck or motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home neglect or abuse
- Medical malpractice
How much compensation should you expect from a wrongful death claim?
The compensation you receive for the loss of a loved one may vary dramatically. It may depend on the financial losses that go along with your loved one’s loss, how many people his or her death impacts, and how much coverage the insurance policy that covers the responsible entity provides.
In an auto accident, for example, a driver may have relatively low liability insurance coverage, which could restrict the compensation you receive. If multiple people died in an accident, it may also decrease the compensation you receive. When you put together your wrongful death claims package, however, you should include all potential areas of compensation in your claim.
Your loved one’s medical expenses. Your loved one does not have to die immediately, at the time of the accident, for you to file a wrongful death claim. In some cases, accident victims may linger for days, weeks, or even months before succumbing to their injuries. In that time, your loved one may need extensive medical care, which can leave you with substantial medical bills to pay after his loss. This may include:
- Emergency treatment either at the scene of the accident or in the emergency room
- Hospitalization, including long-term hospitalization, which may cost an average ofalmost $4,000 per day. Requiring mechanical ventilation in an intensive care unit mayincrease those costs.
- Surgical intervention
- Treatment in a long-term care facility or rehabilitation facility
- Modifications made to your home to make it comfortable for your loved one to return there after the accident, including wheelchair ramps, widened doorways, or bathroom renovations
- Durable medical equipment
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Psychological therapy your loved one underwent to cope with injuries before death
Your loved one’s pain and suffering. Injuries that ultimately result in death can cause substantial pain and suffering in the days leading up to death. If your loved one experiences substantial pain and suffering before death, you can include that as part of your claim.
Loss of your loved one’s income. When your loved one provides the primary income for your family, it can leave you scrambling to take care of your bills and expenses after his death. Some people support not only their own families, but also aging parents. Parents may also provide some financial support for adult children who face financial struggles. Receiving compensation for that lost income will not replace your loved one, but it can offer several advantages, including providing a source of funds for a period of time after a loved one’s loss or offering the ability for the surviving spouse to go back to school, pursue further certifications, or find another source of income.
Loss of the services your loved one provides for the family. In some cases, the value of the services your loved one provides for the family significantly exceeds the value of his financial contributions to the family. A stay-at-home parent, for example, might not provide financial assistance to the family, but does provide several valuable contributions to the family unit. This might include:
- Providing care for minor children. Across the United States, daycare costs an average ofalmost $12,000 per year for a single child. While most centers will offer a discount for multiple children, the more children you have, the more it can cost to pay for daycare—especially if you work a nontraditional schedule. Even putting children in after school care can cost an average of around$7,700 per year for one child. Losing the children’s primary care provider could mean placing those children in daycare or after school care.
- Providing care for aging family members. Many family members come together to provide care for aging family members, keeping them at home instead of sending them to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Home health care costsan average of $22 per hour, with many care providers requiring a minimum number of hours per visit. If the primary caregiver of a senior loved one dies in an accident, that senior may have to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility, which may substantially increase the cost of care.
- Cleaning the home. Each time you bring out maid service to clean a home, it costsaround $167. If you lose the person responsible for cleaning your home, however, you may notice that it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the home clean, especially with all the other responsibilities that go along with it.
- Taking care of house and yard maintenance. Keeping up with your home and yard can take more time and energy than many people think. Simply hiring someone to mow the yard can rangebetween $30 and $80 per visit. More intensive maintenance, including trimming bushes, clearing driveways, and mulching leaves, can cost even more. Hiring someone to take care of that maintenance can leave a substantial dent in your finances. Following the loss of the loved one who took care of tasks like cleaning out the gutters or making repairs may also mean significantly increased overall costs at home.
Often, family members do not realize the full contributions made by a member of the family until that family member can no longer perform those services. Losing a family member abruptly may also leave the family scrambling to handle those tasks.
Loss of your loved one’s companionship and presence. In addition to the more tangible costs associated with the loss of your loved one, you will also lose his presence: His companionship; the advice and guidance he could have offered children as they grew; the support and love offered to a spouse. A parent who loses a minor child also loses all of the hopes and dreams that went along with that child’s life. With that loss, the shape of an entire family may change, causing loneliness and frustration.
Should you accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer after the loss of a loved one?
In many cases, after you lose a loved one in an accident, the insurance company will quickly contact you to offer a settlement offer. Sometimes, that settlement offer represents the full compensation offered by the insurance policy. In other cases, however, the insurance company may attempt to minimize its financial obligation to your family by offering a low settlement for your loved one’s loss.
Before accepting any initial settlement offer, consult an experienced wrongful death attorney. An attorney will give you a better idea of exactly how much compensation your family deserves. Do not allow any family member to sign a settlement offer without the support of the others and the advice of an attorney, since you cannot file another claim after accepting that settlement offer.
In some cases, you may need to negotiate extensively with the insurance company. Following that initial offer, you may work with your attorney to put together a demand package of your own: one that includes all the elements of the financial and emotional burden placed on you by the loss of a loved one. The insurance company may respond with another offer. It can take several rounds of negotiations to come to an agreement.
In some cases, you and the insurance company may not reach an agreement about the compensation you deserve for your loss. In that case, you may need to go through mediation or even take your claim to court to get the compensation you deserve for the loss of a loved one. Having an attorney on your side can help you better understand each step of that negotiation process and what it means for your family.
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney?
When you lose a loved one due to the negligent actions of another party, hiring an attorney can substantially reduce your stress and increase the odds that you will receive all the compensation you deserve for that loss.
The sooner you contact an experienced wrongful death attorney, the sooner you can start seeking the compensation you deserve. Contacting an attorney early can also make it easier to collect evidence concerning your loved one’s accident, whether that means looking through security footage or consulting with expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident.