A Wrongful Death Lawyer must be armed with knowledge of the law, full control of the facts and compassion for the survivors. A wrongful death lawyer needs to be not only knowledgeable of personal injury law but also the scope of damages available under the pertinent wrongful death statute.
Wrongful Death Lawyer-Experience
Wrongful death lawyer Brien Roche has over 35 years of trial experience and has garnered over $25,000,000.00 for his clients. If you are a survivor of someone who has lost their life due to the negligence of another in Virginia, Washington DC or Maryland, contact Brien Roche today.
Wrongful Death Lawyer- Pursuit Of Claim
If the injury suffered results in death then that person’s estate may assert what is known as a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death claim is a claim wherein the injured party rather than having simply suffered personal injury has actually died as a result of the conduct of the defendant.
A wrongful death claim may be based upon a negligence theory, a breach of warranty theory or based upon an intentional tort theory such as assault and battery. Wrongful death claims are a fairly recent phenomenon in that the English Common Law did not recognize wrongful death claims on the theory that once a person had died there was no amount of money that could compensate for the loss. As such, his claim died with him. The state legislatures, however, over the years have come to recognize that even though death may bring an end to the suffering and damages incurred by the decedent there may be persons left behind who have been damaged and may continue to be damaged in the future as a result of the passing of that person. Every state has its own wrongful death act. Typically the damages recoverable are damages consisting of solace and grief experienced by the survivors, loss of earnings suffered by the dependents left behind as a result of the death of the decedent and his subsequent inability to generate income, any medical expenses incurred by the decedent in the last illness and the funeral expenses.
Wrongful death can result from medical malpractice, car accident, truck accident or defective products. Injuries resulting in wrongful death may entitle the survivors to substantial benefits. Those benefits need to be fully calculated and aggressively pursued.
Wrongful Death Lawyer-Proving Damages
Wrongful death damages need to be brought to life. To appreciate the extent of one’s loss it is sometimes said that you need to look for the “violin”. What that means is that to appreciate the extent of loss for one that has suffered an arm amputation you need to inquire as to whether or not the person was a violin player. If so, then the loss is especially devastating. In developing the damages in a wrongful death claim you need to look for the violin.
There are several other considerations for the wrongful death lawyer:
- Wrongful death claims should be brought to trial as quickly as possible because the survivors change, adjust and move on to new relationships. The case needs to be presented to a jury before that happens.
- The decedent’s life expectancy and work life expectancy have to be established. To do that the entire medical history of the decedent and probably also the entire medical history of the beneficiaries needs to be established.
- Explore whether or not the decedent experienced any conscious pain and suffering before death.
- Develop the pecuniary loss suffered by the survivors as seen not only in the loss of earnings but also in the value of the services that the decedent performed for the family and the reasonable cost of replacing those services. For instance, what does it cost to replace the services of a stay at home parent?
- To fully appreciate the extent of grief and bereavement paint a picture of the decedent’s home and chronicle the decedent’s life through pictures. Visit the decedent’s gravesite to determine how far the family must travel to visit.
- The use of a grief expert may be necessary to help the jury understand not only what the survivors have gone through but what they will go through in the future.
- The grief expert may want to consider administering the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory to establish the degree of each survivor’s emotional injury.
- Consideration also needs to be given to the existence of any survival claims, i.e. the personal injury claim that the decedent had before death. This is where an autopsy may be necessary to prove not only how death occurred but also when it occurred and what the decedent experienced up to the time of death.
- Some books that may help develop these theories are Motherless Daughters, The Legacy of Loss by Hope Adelman and The Loss That is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of Early Death of a Mother or Father by Maxine Harris.
Another element of damage for a claim like this is what is called hedonic damages i.e. the loss of enjoyment of life. To prove this type of claim there may be a need to put on expert testimony through a psychologist plus an economist who can testify as to hedonic damages. Evidence of how certain federal agencies evaluate human life can be seen in the fact that seatbelts save 1 person in 10,000 yet the cost of these seatbelts is dramatic. That cost figure may be evidence of the value of one life. The Occupational and Safety and Health Administration has placed a value of $2 million on an unknown American to justify the agency’s willingness to require safety devices in the work environment.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer
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If you think you have a basis for a wrongful death claim and need a wrongful death lawyercontact us.