The merits of a wrongful death case hinge on proving that another party is responsible for the death of the deceased. While this may sound elementary, proving fault in wrongful death cases is complicated. There are several challenges that often surround these cases. Given that there is so much at stake, it is often wise to consult with a wrongful death attorney. For starters, there is a need to establish the merits of the case. Understanding the complications and intricacies of wrongful death suits helps to shed light on the need for an attorney.
Statute of Limitations
By law, all civil actions including wrongful death are subject to a statute of limitations. This means that there is a time frame when these claims can be filed. The statute of limitations differs from one state to another; some are set at one year, while others give a “limitations period” of up to three years. Based on your jurisdiction, a personal injury lawyer DC relies oncan help you determine the applicable statute. This is why it is advisable to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers are on standby to offer a case evaluation and guide you forward. An attorney can advise you as to whether or not your case may qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations. Common exceptions are:
- Waivers. While this statute is limiting, there are certain instances when the court may grant a waiver. There are also special circumstances when tolling or suspending the statute is acceptable. However, even this provision still depends on the state’s law. If the discovery period takes long, the courts can allow for tolling.
- Minors. Another special example applies to minors. If a wrongful death action needs to be filed by a child, then they can only do so once they attain the required age.
When it comes to the statute of limitations, the courts will weigh the benefits of suspending or tolling against any prejudice to the defendant. Their decision may also be hinged on the case before them and how the attorney argues it out. The statute of limitations can be a major challenge in a wrongful death lawsuit. Our experienced lawyers can help you sidestep some of the potential challenges that these limitations come with.
The Jury’s Perception
The value of life cannot truly be accurately assessed in monetary terms. When deciding on how much to award for damages, the jury will consider the surviving estate. The general trend is that the jury will be more sympathetic to people with whom they can relate and empathize. If the surviving members of the family come across as respectable, likable, trustworthy and genuine, then the courts may award a higher amount.
However, should the jury perceive that the surviving estate is merely on a “get rich quick” scheme, then they are likely to favor the defendant. This means that the case presented before the courts should be believable. This can prove to be a challenge if the victims do not know how to make a good case. Aside from defending the victims, the lawyer will also need to defend the memory of the deceased. The jury will consider whether the deceased was a good person in society, or whether he or she was a person of questionable character. The relationship he or she had with the surviving family will also be considered. The jury is normally inclined to award more money to a good person.
As evidenced, it is best to consult with our wrongful death lawyers. Together, we will develop a strategy for making the strongest possible case for the jury. Wrongful death cases are often emotional for the surviving family members. It is the goal of our wrongful death lawyers to provide you with much-needed peace to heal as we work to secure you a fair settlement.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Frederick J. Brynn P.C. for their insight into wrongful death cases.