Wrongful Death Lawsuit Frequently Asked Questions

What is a claim for "wrongful death?"

A. A "wrongful" death is a death caused by "negligence," which means doing something a reasonably careful person or company would not do under the same or similar circumstances, or failing to do something a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances. The law compensates certain listed close relatives of the deceased with money damages for wrongful death.

Who can bring a wrongful death claim?

A. Most states require a wrongful death case to be filed by a court-appointed personal representative of the estate of the deceased person. The personal representative usually brings the wrongful death case for the benefit of the deceased's surviving spouse and children, if there are any, or more distant relatives if not. Often courts appoint one of the wrongful death claim beneficiaries as the personal representative.

What damages are recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits?

A. Usually this is a question of state law, and state law varies:

  • While all states allow for recovery of some form of economic losses, the precise economic damages allowed vary state to state:
    • Almost all states allow damages for funeral and burial expenses and for loss of financial support from the deceased person;
    • Some states also allow damages for loss of prospective inheritance;
    • Other states allow recovery of the deceased person's total lifetime earning capacity.
  • Most states allow recovery for any conscious pain and suffering experienced by the deceased, although a few states do not allow damages for conscious pain and suffering.
  • Many states allow noneconomic damages to the surviving spouse or next of kin such as loss of society and companionship damages, and while the trend has been to allow noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases, some states still do not allow the surviving family members to recover noneconomic damages. Moreover, some of the states that allow recovery of noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases place limits on what may be recovered, while others not only do not place arbitrary limits on what may be recovered but view such limits as unconstitutional.

A qualified wrongful death attorney will be able to provide counsel about how the law applies to a particular case, including what types of damages may be recovered, whether any damages caps apply and the best strategies to pursue.

Are there time limits for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit?

A. Yes, there are time limits for bringing wrongful death lawsuits. Unless a lawsuit is filed by the proper party within the time allowed by law, any right to recover monetary damages will be lost forever. There are a number of factors which come into play in properly calculating how much time the law allows to sue. This important calculation is best done by an experienced wrongful death attorney early on.

If I bring a wrongful death lawsuit will I have to go to court?

A. As with any lawsuit filed, there is a chance that the action will have to proceed to court, and it is essential that you be prepared to do so. However, many wrongful death cases are settled without going to trial.

Trials can be long and costly. An attorney with experience representing clients with wrongful death cases will possess the skills required to fully and properly litigate your claim, while at the same time working to recover the compensation you deserve in a reasonable amount of time. Since every case might proceed to trial and no one knows until a case is concluded if it will be tried, it is essential that you choose a wrongful death attorney qualified to represent your interests and protect your right to recovery in front of a judge and jury if that becomes necessary. Having a qualified, experienced trial lawyer with a track record of success in court is especially important for those who want the highest settlement out of court.

What should I look for in choosing a wrongful death attorney to represent me?

There are many personal injury and wrongful death attorneys out there, and it's important to know what separates the attorneys qualified to handle your wrongful death claim from those who are not. Some of the main factors include:

  • RESOURCES REQUIRED TO LITIGATE YOUR CLAIM: Pursuing a wrongful death claim is costly. From gathering evidence to obtaining experts needed to assure that you prevail on your case, the expenses mount quickly. A qualified wrongful death attorney must have the resources necessary to cover those costs. A wrongful death attorney who has both experience as well as a record of recovering outstanding results on behalf of the client is more likely to have the resources to ensure superior preparation and litigation of your claim.
  • EXPERIENCE: To ensure a higher chance of prevailing on your case, it's vital to select an attorney with substantial past experience successfully litigating wrongful death cases.
  • DEDICATION AND DILIGENCE: It is in your best interests to select an attorney who dedicates a large part of his or her practice to wrongful death cases. Also, be sure to choose an attorney who can offer you the individual attention you need. In doing so, you can ensure your claim is being handled by an attorney with the proper knowledge to litigate your case, and also that your claim will be thoroughly prepared and presented — not ignored because of an attorney's large caseload.
  • RESULTS: Finally, you should seek out an attorney who has a reputation for achieving the maximum recovery for his or her clients. Oftentimes the defendant in a wrongful death case will be a corporation and usually insurance companies are involved. Typically wrongful death cases are defended by highly skilled defense attorneys who work hard at preventing their clients from having to pay or minimizing what they do pay. A wrongful death attorney with a history of securing exceptional results for clients against such adversaries is the type of attorney you should want handling your wrongful death case.

How much does it cost to hire a wrongful death attorney?

A. In wrongful death cases the client usually does not pay the attorney an hourly rate and no money is paid upfront. Instead the client pays a defined percentage of the amount of money that is recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. This is referred to as a contingent fee arrangement, and the percentage can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Additionally, the law firm you are working with will usually pay all necessary out-of-pocket expenses subject to a right of reimbursement without interest at the conclusion of the case, sometimes before, and sometimes after the contingent fee is calculated. In a contingent fee arrangement, if there is no financial recovery in a lawsuit there is no fee paid to the attorneys.

If wrongful death damages are recovered, is that money taxable?

A. Damage amounts recovered for wrongful death are generally not taxable.

Why is Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., the right law firm to handle a wrongful death case?

  • Rapoport Law Offices, P.C.'s attorneys have an outstanding record of success representing clients with wrongful death cases, including those with lawsuits arising from aviation negligence, medical malpractice, product liability, semitruck and motor vehicle negligence, workplace injuries and construction accidents.
  • Our wrongful death attorneys are skilled negotiators; however, they are also highly experienced litigators who are not afraid to take a case to trial.
  • Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., has an established and constantly expanding network of expert resources to aggressively pursue the best outcome for our clients under their unique circumstances.
  • Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., exclusively represents individuals who have suffered severe injuries and families who have lost loved ones as the result of the negligence of others.
  • Our personal injury and wrongful death lawyers and legal support staff take great pride in delivering personalized legal service, never losing focus of what matters: our client.

Will I have to pay a fee to have an attorney at Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., review my case?

A. No. If you feel that a loved one may have been a victim of wrongful death, rest assured that there is never a fee to have the circumstances reviewed by one of our experienced attorneys.

What is the best way to contact a lawyer at Rapoport Law Offices, P.C.?

A. Email a lawyer at Rapoport Law Offices, P.C., directly. If you prefer to telephone a lawyer, our toll free number is 877-216-4213. Or, you can begin by simply pressing the contact us button in the upper right-hand corner of this web page.

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