The death of a close family member is never easy to accept. If you have reason to believe that death was caused in whole, or in part, by the wrongful conduct of another party, however, accepting the loss can be much more difficult. Nothing can turn back the clock and bring back your loved one. You may, however, be entitled to pursue compensation that your loved one would likely want you to have and ensure that the at fault party is held responsible by filing as a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit. The first step in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit is to consult with an experienced Tennessee wrongful death lawyer. Because you have likely never been through a wrongful death case before you may not know what to expect from your initial consultation. Moreover, you may be a bit nervous and emotional during the meeting which may cause you to forget important points. Preparing questions ahead of time is one way to ensure that does not happen. Given the fact that no two wrongful death cases will include the same facts and circumstances, you may want to add additional questions that are specific to your case; however, the following five questions should apply to any initial meeting with a wrongful death lawyer.
- How does the State of Tennessee define “wrongful death?” Wrongful death cases fall under the purview of state law, meaning that each individual state has developed its own definition of what constitutes a wrongful death, though the definitions are similar among the states. As a potential claimant in wrongful death case the first thing you need to know is what makes a death a “wrongful” death in the State of Tennessee.
- Do the facts of my case appear to include a wrongful death? Before your meeting it is a good idea to prepare a summary of the case to date. In the summary, explain how your loved one died and explain what you believe caused his/her death. Be sure to include in the summary the names of the parties whom you believe played a role in the death of your loved one. At the meeting, allow the attorney to read through the summary and ask you any relevant questions. After that, the lawyer should be prepared to give you an opinion with regard to whether or not a wrongful death occurred. Keep in mind that as more information comes to light down the road the lawyer’s opinion could change for the better or the worse; however, you need to know initially whether or not the facts as you have presented them indicate a potential wrongful death lawsuit.
- Who is entitled to file as a claimant in a wrongful death case? The law limits who may file as a claimant in a wrongful death lawsuit. The primary reason for this is found in the justification for a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to any other personal injury lawsuit in that the idea behind the lawsuit is compensating an injured victim. The difference, of course, being that in all other personal injury lawsuits the victim is alive to pursue compensation, whereas in a wrongful death lawsuit the victim is dead. Therefore, the law allows survivors who depended on the victim to pursue compensation instead. As such, only close family members (and the Personal Representative of the decedent’s estate) may file as claimants in a wrongful death lawsuit. You need to find out if you qualify before moving forward.
- What type of compensation might I be entitled to if we are successful? Again, state law determines the type of compensation a successful claimant is entitled to in a wrongful death lawsuit. Before deciding to put yourself through a lengthy lawsuit you should have some idea that the general categories of available compensation are in a Tennessee wrongful death lawsuit. You might even be able to discuss, in very broad terms, what your specific case might be worse.
- How long will the case take and how are your fees calculated? Litigation of any type can be emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Before you agree to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit you need have a general idea of how long the case is likely to take and how the lawyer’s fees will be calculated.
If you believe you are a surviving family member of someone who died in a wrongful death accident, it is in your best interest to consult with the experienced Tennessee wrongful death attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.