What is a wrongful death lawsuit? » How do you File a Wrongful Death Claim?
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A simple guide for filing your loved one's wrongful death claim
In the midst of mourning and funeral preparations, it can be overwhelming to think clearly about filing a wrongful death claim.
Although the statute of limitations in all states gives you at least a year to file your wrongful death lawsuit, the sooner you talk to a lawyer, the better. Sometimes, there are filing deadlines that occur sooner than the deadlines imposed by the Statute of Limitations. Some situations may impose requirements for filing or providing proper legal notice within 3 or 6 months.
You want the evidence and other information to be as fresh as possible when the death of your loved one is being investigated by your wrongful death attorney, so you have the best chance possible to win your case. But how do you actually go about filing a wrongful death claim?
Steps in Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
- Determine whether or not your loved one was pursuing a personal injury claim against the defendant before he or she died. There are survivor statutes, which allow you to pick up the personal injury lawsuit in place of the deceased. This lawsuit is separate from any wrongful death lawsuit you file, but in many cases, the two are wrapped into one trial or settlement. The point is that you need to find out about any lingering personal injury claims before you think about filing a wrongful death claim.
- Determine if you are a person who is permitted by law to file the wrongful death lawsuit. This depends on your relationship to the victim, the state in which you live, and the decedent's will. If there is no will, you have to be an adult and someone directly related to the victim, like a parent, spouse or child. Sometimes the person who can file a wrongful death lawsuit isn't the same person who will benefit from any awarded money – there are very clear laws as to who can be a beneficiary. If you can't legally file the suit, but stand to benefit from it, it is important to talk to the will executor or another person who does have the right to act as the estate representative.
What is an Estate?
When a person dies, their possessions, money, property, and so forth are known as an "estate." With a wrongful death lawsuit, any money that is awarded might be awarded not to any one beneficiary, but rather to the estate. The lines here blur somewhat, because the will executor, heir of the estate, and beneficiary of a wrongful death lawsuit might all be one and the same. Problems sometimes arise when multiple people are involved, all trying to benefit from the lawsuit.
Proceeding with the filing of your Wrongful Death claim
If you have the right to file suit, your first step should be to talk to a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death lawsuits. Although you legally don't need to have a lawyer to file your lawsuit, keep in mind that you'll be up against a big insurance company, and because you are the one filing the lawsuit, the burden of proof falls on your shoulders. That means that you have to prove the defendant is responsible for committing a mistake that led to the death of your loved one.
There are several important steps to properly filing a wrongful death claim. The sooner you consult with a pa wrongful death lawyer to learn about these steps and determine whether your loved one died as a result of someone else's mistake, the better your chances of obtaining money for your loved one's estate. .
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