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Wrongful Death Claims and Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

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Wrongful Death Claims and Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Wrongful Death Claims 

 

Some of the most difficult cases that personal injury lawyers encounter are those involving wrongful death. “Wrongful death refers to a death that occurs due to a fatal accident or injury that is caused by the negligent actions of another person, either intentional or unintentional.  

 

Wrongful death lawsuits often consist of motor vehicle accidents involving a drunk driver, medical malpractice, product liability cases, or homicide. 

 

Whenever someone dies due to the negligent or malicious actions of another, the grief that family members feel is compounded by other emotions. Those left behind when a family member is killed often go through a series of emotions before reaching a place of acceptance. These might include:

 
  • Shock and denial. When someone is killed unexpectedly, loved ones may go through a period of shock, unable to believe that the person is actually gone. It can take weeks before they are able to fully recognize that the death has occurred.

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  • Guilt and pain. Even though family members may not have been responsible in any way, they may feel guilt. “If only” is often on their minds: if only they had insisted that the loved one stay home that day, or “if only” they had done some small thing differently, the accident would not have happened. Sometimes family members feel guilt that they were not present when the loved one died or were unable to say goodbye. This can also be a very painful and overwhelming time, as family members begin to realize the full effects of the loved one’s absence. 

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  • Anger. The family of a victim of wrongful death experiences this stage in a more intense and focused way than other families. In their case, there is a specific person, company, or institution that is responsible for the death, and anger may be directed toward this entity.  

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  • Loneliness. As the reality that their loved one is gone forever sinks in, those left behind can feel great loneliness.

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  • Reconstruction. Finally, family members begin a period of rebuilding their lives without the person who died. This stage involves a certain amount of acceptance and hope for the future. 

 

Taking Legal Action  

 

If you have lost a close family member due to the negligent actions of another person, a corporation, an institution, or a government agencyit may be possible to bring a civil action for wrongful death. You may be able to sue for economic or financial loss as well as non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering. You may receive compensation for:

 
  • Expenses incurred on behalf of the victim after the accident or incident. 

  • Funeral and burial expenses. 

  • Travel expenses incurred by family members visiting the victim following the accident or incident. 

  • Nursing, housekeeping, or other services that the victim required during the time between the accident and their death. 

  • Loss of companionship, care, and guidance due to the death of the family member 

 

In Ontario, certain family members have the right to compensation in wrongful death actionsThe Family Law Act allows spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and siblings to make a claim. Only these family members can bring an action for the loss of care, guidance and companionship, as well as pecuniary loss (financial loss) that results from the death. (For the purposes of a wrongful death case, a spouse is defined as two people that are married to each other or that have been living with each other continuously for three yearsor if they are co-parents of a child. Same-sex partners are included in this definition.) Damages for “pain and suffering” are not recoverable in a wrongful death suit unless the deceased victim went through a prolonged period of agonizing pain before succumbing to his/her injuries.  Family members do not receive damages for pain and suffering.  Although, if family members have expenses related to therapy intended to help them deal with emotional distress, this may be allowed. 

 

Compensation can vary greatly in these types of cases. For example, minor children may be entitled to more compensation than older ones, if they were dependent on the income earned by the deceased person for their support. The calculation of damages will take into account the number of years of earnings lost through the death, and older children would be considered to have fewer years of dependency left.  

 

Working with a Personal Injury Lawyer 

 

If your loved one lost their life through the negligent or reckless actions of a person, product, or institution, you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There is a statute of limitations (or time limit) on filing a lawsuit in these cases. Be sure to consult with a personal injury lawyer with experience in these types of cases; there are very exacting requirements, and you will want someone who has knowledge in this area working for you.  

 

Most personal injury law firms offer a free initial consultation with one of their lawyers, and charge on a contingency basis. This means that your lawyer receives a percentage of any compensation you receive, rather than billing you by the hour. A good personal injury lawyer can be a great help to your family during one of the worst times you’ll ever endure. Contact a law firm today and learn more about your options.