A wrongful death claim allows you to sue for damages when your loved one dies due to another person's fault. Just like other types of claims, you may face some complications while trying to prove your claim and win your case. Here are some of the hurdles to expect while preparing for such a claim:
Limitations on Who Can Instigate the Lawsuit
Whether or not you can sue for wrongful death depends on your states laws. For example, some states allow only designated beneficiaries to sue. Such beneficiaries include immediate family members, financial dependents, and even distant relatives. Then there are also states that grant the right to sue only to the decedent's (the dead person's) estate. Therefore, if you live in the state that limits the plaintiffs to the decedent's estate, and you are a distant relative of the deceased, you may be barred from instigating a wrongful death lawsuit. Contact your lawyer to help you determine whether, according to your state's laws, you can pursue such a claim.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the period within which you have to initiate your wrongful death claim. You lose your right to sue the defendant when the statute of limitations expires.
On the surface, this looks like a straightforward affair, but it isn't as simple as it seems. For example, states have different ways of figuring out when to start counting the statute of limitations. In many states, you should start counting it from the time when you realized (or should have realized) the cause of your loved one's death. In other places, the counting begins at the time of death. There are also states that commence the counting from the date of the misconduct that caused your loved one's demise. Therefore, if you aren't clear on the guidelines adopted in your state, then the statute of limitations may expire before you can initiate a lawsuit.
There are wrongful death cases you cannot pursue due to government immunity. State laws determine who may enjoy immunity when it comes to wrongful death cases. For example, some states protect government agencies and their employees. This type of government immunity isn't absolute; there are exceptions you can use to pursue a wrongful death claim against a government employee. For example, some states do not enforce the immunity for employees who cause fatal car accidents.
These are just three examples of hurdles you may face when pursuing a wrongful death claim. Prepare yourself to surmount them by hiring a personal injury lawyer as soon as you suspect that your loved one has passed on as a result of another person's negligence.