A wrongful death claim eventually requires someone to broach the issue with a defendant. You might wonder how to go about doing this, though. A wrongful death attorney will tell you to follow this checklist.
Wrongful death cases can get emotional quickly. The smart move in any situation where the law overlaps emotions is to hire an attorney as soon as possible. A wrongful death lawyer can serve as a buffer between you and the defendant.
This is especially valuable if you know the defendant personally. Suppose someone is pursuing a claim against their neighbor for gross negligence in a case involving equipment for a DIY renovation project. The claimant probably doesn't want to spend significant time talking with the defendant about what happened. A wrongful death attorney can fill that gap.
Study the Incident Closely
A wrongful death lawyer won't move forward with a claim until they are fairly confident it has a chance of succeeding. Consequently, they will want to study the incident in question closely. An attorney will go through emergency reports, videos, maintenance logs, and other evidence to piece together what happened. You don't want to accuse anyone of civil wrongdoing until you've confirmed that they should be the defendant and there's a case to be made.
Develop the Legal Logic
Similarly, a wrongful death attorney will want to present a case that's on solid legal ground. This can get complicated if there are questions about who should be the defendant. For example, a defendant might try to claim liability should land with a contractor or designee. It can take some time to sort out such claims and move past them.
Also, the claimant must stand on firm ground. The law strongly favors spouses or the closest living genetic relatives. There is virtually no legal room for anyone outside that circle of people to pursue a claim.
Present a Demand
With a strong legal and factual argument in hand, you can proceed with presenting a demand to the defendant. Your wrongful death lawyer will write a letter stating who you are, what happened, and why the defendant is liable. Likewise, the claimant's counsel will outline the expected damages in the case, usually itemizing things like medical bills and lost wages.
In most cases, your lawyer will present the demand letter to an insurance company. However, you can pursue a case against an uninsured party. In either instance, the other side should study the demand and respond with acceptance, a rejection, or a negotiation offer.
To get more information, talk to a wrongful death lawyer in your area.