There are several crucial steps to any wrongful death lawsuit. They can vary, however, depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed. The most important difference between jurisdictions is the right to file suit in the first place. Unlike other jurisdictions, New York and New Jersey only allow the decedent’s personal representative to bring a wrongful death claim. No matter who has the right to file a claim, at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman, P.C., we can help protect your rights throughout the process.
Hire a lawyer
Hiring a skilled lawyer is the essential first step in the wrongful death process. While there is no requirement that you must rely on an attorney, experienced legal counsel can ensure that you receive the compensation your family deserves– to cover both your economic as well as your non-economic losses.
Determine the right to file suit
Next, before you can move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit, you must first determine if you even have the right to pursue a claim directly. The right to file varies dramatically from one state to another. In some states, the law sets out a complicated hierarchy of family members who can file. When the person at the top of the hierarchy is unable or unwilling, the next person on the list has the right. Other states name a series of family members that can file suit—any of which could bring a claim.
In New York and New Jersey, only the personal representative of the estate has the right. That said, any claim they file is for the benefit of the decedent’s surviving relatives.
Negotiating a settlement
Third, many wrongful death claims are ultimately resolved through a mutual settlement—although obtaining a fair offer for a wrongful death claim is never guaranteed. The party bringing this claim should build the strongest case possible before beginning the negotiation process. In many cases, a strong claim is similar to any other personal injury case. It requires evidence that the defendant’s negligence played a role in causing the death of your loved one.
Trying the case
Finally, not every wrongful death case will end in settlement. Ultimately, claims that do not settle will go to trial. A trial is often complicated and can require days or weeks of expert testimony. If the jury sides with you, the court will issue a judgment in your favor.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation
Losing a loved one unexpectedly is one of the most challenging experiences in life. When that loss occurs due to another person’s negligence, you could have a legal claim against the responsible party. We can help protect your rights in this difficult time. Call right away to schedule your initial consultation.