If you had a loved one tragically pass away due to someone else’s negligent behavior, you may be in a state of shock— especially if the death was sudden— and not know what to do next. At The Hayden Law Firm, we want to help you through this challenging time by not only offering our services but our knowledge on all steps of the process. Once you are more aware of how the procedure works, you can begin moving on with confidence and focusing on a better chapter in life.
Step 1. Assess Whether You Have a Case
Your first step is to determine whether the person and the act itself are eligible for a wrongful death lawsuit. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer may be beneficial during this stage. They can evaluate the case to see if you can bring one person, multiple people, or even an entire entity to justice for your loved one’s death. Furthermore, they can help you find out if the timing of the death falls within the statute of limitations (three years from the date of the death in Missouri) and if your relationship to the deceased qualifies you for wrongful death damages in the first place. For example, in Missouri there are certain classes of eligibility that include:
- All other lineal descendants
- Plaintiff ad litem
Step 2. Get a Personal Injury Lawyer Involved As Soon As Possible
If you haven’t already spoken to a personal injury lawyer, now is the time to get them involved. A wrongful death attorney, like Amanda Hayden at The Hayden Law Firm, can help you:
- Take the first steps in filing the suit
- Ensure all of the paperwork is filled out properly and on time
- Handle all communication with all of the parties involved
- Keep the case moving in an orderly and timely fashion
- Protect your rights at every turn
Step 3. Conduct a Thorough Investigation
We know that after someone close to you has died, it can be difficult to think of little else besides the grief. This is why you need a personal injury lawyer on your side to handle everything while you take the time you need to mourn.
Immediately following the death is the most crucial time to investigate to ensure that no evidence is destroyed and that your rights are protected. We gather evidence including:
- Police statements
- Interviews of witnesses
- Medical professional opinions
- Medical records
- Speaking with experts about the cause of death
All of this is in an effort to get to the bottom of why their death occurred and who should rightfully be held accountable.
Step 4. Calculate Your Case Value
We will work to determine the case value taking into account all of the factors surrounding the death. Damages can be awarded for both monetary and non-monetary items that the surviving family members were deprived of since the death of the loved one.
Components that go into the value of your case:
- Medical, doctor, and hospital bills incurred before the death
- End-of-life expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of future income and benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support, guidance, training, counsel, and instruction
- Pain and suffering
- Grief counseling after the death
Note that caps exist on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, but there are NO CAPS on economic damages in Missouri. Your personal injury lawyer will determine the maximum amount to ask for to make up for the pain the negligent person has caused.
Step 5. File the Lawsuit and Demand a Fair Settlement
The lawyer will help you craft an organized and compelling demand letter. When formally filing your case, you and your lawyer will:
- Name the defendant(s) whom you are filing against
- Detail your case, evidence, and the reasons why you have a right to compensation
- State the monetary value you are seeking to recover in damages
- Demand a fair court decision
Step 6. Negotiate With the At-Fault Party and/or Their Insurance
Your attorney will staunchly defend your rights and advocate on your behalf. There may be a lot of back and forth, but rest assured that we won’t back down until reaching a number that you feel is fair.
The case can be settled without having to go to trial if the two sides can come to an agreement on their own.
Step 7. Go To Trial (If Necessary)
This only occurs if the defendant will not agree to a reasonable settlement. If they do not, your case will move into court, where it will be heard by a judge and/or a jury.
Contact The Hayden Law Firm
For help with any one of these steps, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis who cares. Amanda Hayden is ready to talk when you are, but do not delay or else risk falling out of the time limitations. Contact us or call (314) 480-3100 now.