Losing a loved one is devastating, but it is even more painful if someone else’s actions caused the death. You will want answers to understand what happened, find closure, and get justice for your loved one. The family might also want to file a wrongful death lawsuit. You can do so with the help of a wrongful death attorney, but you need to choose the right one to ensure the best outcome. Asking the right questions will help you understand whether a lawyer is right for your case and the process of getting compensated for wrongful death.
What Experience Do You Have with Wrongful Death Claims?
This should be among the first questions you ask a wrongful death attorney. An attorney with experience with these types of cases will be hugely beneficial in different ways. First, they will understand the filing procedures, including the required documentation and deadlines. This is crucial because making mistakes or missing a deadline when filing can jeopardize your case.
Second, they will be in a better position to evaluate how much your case is worth based on experience. This information puts your wrongful death settlement lawyer in a better position to either negotiate a better settlement or argue for a better award in court.
Lastly, they will give you the support and advice you need through this process. You want someone who offers practical advice to help you understand what is happening and what to do. You also need support when dealing with wrongful death, and the lawyer can either provide it or point you to several resources that make dealing with the passing of a loved one easier.
What are Your Fee and Payment Arrangements?
You should also know how and what a wrongful death attorney California will charge for handling your case. The good news is that most attorneys work on contingency. In a contingency arrangement, you do not pay any upfront or ongoing fees.
The lawyer is, instead, paid a percentage of your settlement award once the case concludes or you reach a settlement with the other party.
However, you still need to discuss what percentage the attorney will expect depending on the different expenses and costs they incur while representing you.
How Long Do I Have to File?
California law has a strict statute of limitations for wrongful death suits. Apart from a few exceptional cases, you have two years to file, and the countdown starts from the date of the loved one’s death.
One exception is when family members are not reasonably expected to have known about their loved one’s death and only found out much later. In such cases, the court may rule that the two-year period should start when the family members discovered the passing.
Another exception is in medical malpractice cases. Here, you have a year to file from the date of death or when the family discovered the malpractice. However, the court can extend the filing window in special circumstances, such as when there is evidence of concealment or fraud.
The other exception is if you want to file a suit against a government agency. In that situation, you only have six months to file, underlining the importance of contacting the best wrongful death lawyers so they can look into your case and file as soon as possible.
How Long Will My Case Take?
Every wrongful death case is different, so there is no reasonable way to tell how long one will last. However, an experienced lawyer will consider the facts and evidence and give you a rough estimate. They will also consider potential delays, such as in the discovery process, and inform you appropriately.
Because they understand the situation’s urgency, a wrongful death law firm will do its best to resolve the case as quickly and efficiently as possible.
What is Your Approach When Negotiating with Insurance Companies?
Once you file a lawsuit or hire a lawyer, the other party’s insurance provider will more often than not reach out with a settlement offer. Their aim is to settle as fast as possible for as little as they can get away with.
Your wrongful death attorney should have a strategy for negotiating with them so that they can give you the settlement you deserve. The wrongful death lawyers at Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys have vast experience dealing with settlement negotiations and will help you avoid being lowballed by an insurance company.
Are You Prepared for Trial If My Case Goes to Court?
Most wrongful death cases are settled out of court. However, some end up in litigation, and you need to know whether your attorney is prepared to argue your case in court if necessary. A reassuring answer would be a resounding yes, with the attorney telling you about their experience taking similar cases to trial and their win rates.
What Type of Compensation Can I expect?
In California, there are two types of damages in wrongful death cases: economic and non-economic. Each will play a role in what your final settlement will look like.
Economic losses refer to direct financial losses that the family has suffered or will suffer in the future due to the death of a loved one. These can include medical costs, funeral or burial costs, loss of benefits, and the value lost from not receiving assistance from the defendant.
These costs and losses are more challenging to calculate than those in routine personal injury cases because they are future projections. However, an experienced wrongful death settlement lawyer will help you quantify anything and include it in your case details.
Non-economic damages refer to intangible losses. These can include pain and anguish, loss of companionship, love, care, and intimacy for couples, and parental guidance for the children. Since they must consider numerous factors and variables, every attorney calculates non-economic damages differently.
Choosing the right attorney to handle a wrongful death case ensures the family can get compensation and justice, hold the other party accountable, and get the closure it deserves. Asking the right questions is the best way of knowing whether the lawyer will provide the level of representation and lead to the best settlement or award.