If you have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence or misconduct, you may be considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit. However, there are several common myths that can deter people from pursuing these cases. As you weigh your options, it’s important to learn the truth behind some prevalent misconceptions about wrongful death claims, so you can make an informed decision. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney can also help.
Myth 1: You Can Only Sue the Person Who Caused the Death Directly
One myth is that you can only file a lawsuit against the person directly responsible for your loved one’s death. This is not true – multiple parties can share liability depending on the circumstances. For instance, if a company’s safety negligence contributed to a fatal accident, they could face allegations alongside the individual who caused the death. An attorney can help you identify all potentially liable parties.
Myth 2: You Must Prove Intent to Recover Damages
You do not need to prove the liable party intended to cause the victim’s death, only that their reckless behavior or negligence resulted in the fatality. For example, if your loved one died in a truck accident where the delivery driver was distracted and speeding, you only need to prove the reckless driving resulted in the collision – not that they meant to cause harm. An experienced attorney can help build a strong negligence case.
Myth 3: Pain and Suffering Damages Aren’t Available
Although the deceased individual can no longer experience emotional distress themselves, pain and suffering damages may still be recoverable. Specifically, your claim can seek compensation for any pain, fear, or mental anguish your loved one experienced between injury and death. An attorney can help quantify these damages.
Myth 4: You Can’t File a Claim if the Death Was Instant
Even if your loved one was killed instantly in the incident, you can still pursue financial recovery. Wrongdoers should be held accountable regardless of whether the victim survived briefly following the misconduct or negligence that caused their death.
Myth 5: You Must Have Been Financially Dependent to Recover Damages
Unlike some insurance claims, you do not need to prove financial dependency on the deceased victim to pursue wrongful death compensation. Whether you relied on their income or not, you can recover damages for emotional grief, loss of companionship, and more. An attorney can seek a settlement or court award reflecting the full extent of your damages.
Myth 6: You Will Receive the Settlement Money Directly
While you initiate a wrongful death claim, any compensation awarded typically goes to the victim’s estate rather than directly to family members. The court or estate administrator then distributes proceeds to heirs and beneficiaries. Your attorney can explain this process in more detail, so you know what to expect.
These are just a few of the common misconceptions that can deter grieving families from pursuing accountability and compensation after tragic, preventable deaths. By understanding your legal options and working with an experienced wrongful death attorney, you can overcome these myths to seek the justice your loved one deserves. Though no settlement can undo this painful loss, holding negligent parties liable can provide some closure.