Q: Can someone sue for the pain and suffering of a decedent?
A.Yes, in addition to the wrongful death, a decedent’s family may recover damages for the pain and suffering that the decedent endured prior to death.
Q: Are all state laws the same regarding wrongful deaths?
A.No, there are many differences between each state’s wrongful death laws. Determining the state in which you should bring a wrongful death action is a very important decision, because some states do not allow certain types of damage awards and/or may have different statutes of limitation that establish the timeframe within which you must file suit.
Q: Are punitive damages recoverable in wrongful death actions?
A.In most states, a plaintiff may not recover punitive damages in a wrongful death action. There are some states, however, that do have specific statues that permit recovery of punitive damages.
Q: What if a person dies before bringing a personal injury lawsuit?
A.It depends on whether a person dies as a result of the injuries or from unrelated causes. If a person injured in an accident subsequently dies because of those injuries, that person’s heirs may recover money through a lawsuit. Every state has a law permitting an action when someone causes the wrongful death of another. If a person with a personal injury claim dies from unrelated causes, the claim survives in most cases and may be brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.
Q: Is there a deadline for filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for my injuries?
A.If you have no success reaching a settlement with an insurance company, you may be forced to consider bringing a lawsuit in small claims or other court. But you must be aware of the laws, called “statutes of limitations,” that limit the time in which you have to file. If you miss your state’s deadline, you will lose your right to recover compensation in court, and will be forced to abandon your claim altogether. Check your state’s laws to find the time limit that applies to your case.
Q: I’ve been hurt in an accident and I want to file a claim for my injuries. What’s the first thing I should do?
A.There are a number of things you can do in the first few days and weeks after an accident to protect your right to compensation should you want to file an injury claim. Except for filing a formal claim against a government entity, there’s no single step that you absolutely must take to obtain a fair settlement, and no set order in which you must proceed. However, the more of the following suggestions you can follow, the more smoothly your claim process is likely to flow.
- Write down as much as you can about the accident itself, your injuries, and any other losses (such as wages) you’ve suffered as a result of the accident.
- Make notes of conversations that you have with people involved in the accident or the injury claim.
- Preserve evidence of who caused the accident and what damage was done by collecting physical evidence and taking photographs.
- Locate people who witnessed the accident and who might be able to help you prove your case , and
- Notify anyone you think might be responsible for the accident of your intention to file a claim for your injuries.
Q: Can I bring a wrongful death action based on the death of a child or an elderly person?
A.Yes, you can recover damages in a wrongful death cause of action for the death of either a child or an elderly person. For a variety of reasons, however, the damage awards for both classes of decedent are usually modest.
Q: Can I bring a wrongful death action if the deceased never held a job?
A.Yes, even if the decedent never held a job, he/she may have contributed in some other way to the family. A good example of such a decedent is a housewife, who contributes services, guidance and nurturing her family. These contributions are quantifiable as “pecuniary losses” in a wrongful death action.
Q: When someone dies, what is the difference between the civil and criminal cases that can be brought regarding the death?
A.A criminal case arises when the government seeks to punish an individual for an act that has been classified as a crime. A civil case, on the other hand, usually has to do with a dispute over the rights and duties that individuals and organizations legally owe to each other. The burden of proof is higher in a criminal case, and the penalty imposed is a criminal sanction, whereas, in a civil case, the defendant will typically have a monetary judgement entered against him/her.
Q: What if an unborn fetus dies?
A.Many states require that a child must be born alive for its death to constitute the first element of a wrongful death action, so the death of a fetus might not be actionable. An attorney can tell you what the precise law is in your state.
Q: What is the deadline for filing an accident injury claim against a government entity?
A.If your accident might have been even partially caused by a government entity or employee — the city, county, state, or federal government, or any public agency or division (a city bus or a school district, for example) — you must file a formal claim within a short time after your accident. This period of time usually ranges between 30 days and one year, depending on your state. If you fail to file a claim within the time limit, or fail to include required information in your claim, you may forever lose your right to collect compensation. To find the time limit for your state, call your city or county attorney’s office and ask. Although they may be the ones defending against your claim if you file it, they are under a legal obligation to give you correct filing information. You can also find a complete list of time limits, plus instructions on how to file a government claim, in 'How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim' by Joseph Matthews (Nolo).
Q: How soon do I need to notify people about my intention to file a claim for my accident injuries?
A.Unless you’re filing a claim against a government agency or employee, you need not notify the people you think are responsible for your injuries within a set number of days after an accident. But that doesn’t mean you should drag your feet. On the contrary, acting right away — within a few days, if possible — will increase your chances of receiving a quick and fair resolution to your claim. Giving notice doesn’t obligate you to file a claim; it simply preserves your rights and prevents others from later saying that your claim is unfair because you waited too long to tell them about your injuries. If you promptly notify others that you intend to file a claim for your injuries, you can then move at your own pace in processing and negotiating the claim with the insurance company or government agency that winds up taking responsibility.
Q: If I am visiting someone who is a renter, and am hurt, can I recover the costs associated with the injuries including time off of work?
A.It depends who on is responsible for maintaining the premises, If the owner of the property is responsible for maintaining the premises then chances are they have the insurance associated with someone becoming injured on their property. Potentially both the renter and the landlord could be responsible.
Q: How do I know if the owner of the property was negligent?
A.There are a number of factors which dictate whether a homeowner was negligent or not. Here is the basic explanation of who is negligent or not: a property owner has a duty to maintain his/her property in a reasonably safe condition to ensure others are protected from dangers or defects that could cause injury. If a homeowner fails to do something like repair a broken step in a staircase and someone falls through the step, they may be liable for that person’s injury. Another good indicator that the owner was negligent would be a code violation on the premise which could be as simple as a missing staircase banister or unlit entry way.
Q: I fell inside of a house where I was a guest and broke my leg. Can I recover the costs associated with the injuries including time off of work?
A.The recover depends upon who is negligent for the cause injury. What caused your fall? Was it the result of the homeowner’s negligence ( a wet floor, broken steps, no banister on the stairs, unlit stairway, ice on the porch or walk way) or were you doing something inappropriate and potentially harmful to yourself?