St. Louis County Wrongful Death Case Process
No family should ever have to deal with the unexpected death of a loved one. These events are extremely tragic and could leave a family unprepared for the future. For instance, a household might lose a source of steady income, support, and companionship that can never be regained. If the death was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence, a family likely has options for seeking justice.
The process of filing a wrongful death claim is complicated and time-consuming, but it is still a powerful legal option. Fortunately, an experienced lawyer could explain the St. Louis County wrongful death case process in detail and help a family overcome any filing complications.
Steps of the Claims Process
A wrongful death case can begin immediately after someone passes away due to another party’s negligent actions. Thorough investigations into the incident are the most significant first step of this multifaceted process. For instance, a plaintiff’s legal representation could begin examining an accident and a defendant’s insurance company will likely do the same.
Attorneys investigate wrongful deaths in different ways, depending on the type of accident in question. For example, a car crash investigation might involve obtaining police reports, examining video, collecting photographs, and recording witness statements. Meanwhile, a medical negligence case would involve interviewing family members or hospital staff and running detailed opposition research into the at-fault doctor. Finally, fatal premises liability cases might rely on detailed research into the property owner and the type of business they run. During the investigation stage, a proficient and diligent attorney in St. Louis could work hard to collect the best evidence possible, to strengthen their client’s wrongful death case.
After the investigation stage, both sides will present their arguments and a judge will reach a decision. A wrongful death case is completed once a judge signs off on an order approving either a settlement or a verdict in favor of the decedent’s family. If a court decides that a settlement is in the best interest of all parties, they will act to avoid a lawsuit and let a plaintiff collect reimbursement.
How Are Damages Calculated?
Money earned from a wrongful death settlement typically includes reimbursement for things like medical expenses, lost wages and loss of earning capacity, and sudden loss of companionship. These factors are calculated in different ways and often require expert testimony.
Medical or Funeral Expenses
These repayments are often the most straightforward to determine because an investigator could examine documents like medical bills or funeral expense statements to determine how much the family of a decedent needs to be reimbursed.
Lost Wages and Loss of Earning Capacity
These repayments can be more complicated since loss of income is often evaluated by a forensic accountant or an economist. Experts will usually analyze all relevant evidence and conduct interviews with the decedent’s family. Loss of future earning capacity, meanwhile, is calculated based on tables and algorithms. A forensic accountant would establish what the person made annually and then extrapolate that over time based upon the average lifespan of that person. A legal advocate could help retain the accountant or economist best fit for the job.
Loss of Companionship
Determining the value of loss of companionship damages to award is often one of the most difficult aspects of the wrongful death case process. When considering this type of compensation, experts typically look at a variety of factors that most people would not think to investigate. For example, it is important for the expert to find out how often the family members saw each other, what they did together, the life events that they shared, and day to day activities that involved the decedent. A compassionate attorney in St. Louis understands the impact that loss of companionship has on a family and could them incorporate this into their wrongful death case.
Seek an Attorney for Help with the Wrongful Death Case Process
The process of submitting a wrongful death claim is complex and evolving, so a family should seek legal counsel if they are looking for help handling an unexpected and unfair tragedy.
If you need more information about your options, you should ask an organized lawyer to outline the St. Louis wrongful death case process in detail. One of our legal advocates has experience handling these negligence-based claims and could fight hard to protect your family’s rights.