The Bowling Green wrongful death case process is somewhat unique to normal personal injury cases. Firstly, mistakes that cost you a loved one are irreprehensible and frustrating at the least. As if to compound this grief you experience, funerary and estate costs could pile up quickly. Fortunately, there are attorneys with experience handling these delicate matters. If you feel as though your peace of mind has been infringed upon, you need to contact an attorney immediately.
The Start of a Wrongful Death Case in Bowling Green and an Attorney’s Role
A wrongful death case starts after the death of an individual. If there is a will, the person named in the will as the executor or the executrix would contact an attorney to start an estate. If there is no will, typically it is a situation in which the spouse or the heir would contact an attorney to start the estate. For example, a recent case within the last 30 days involves an adult son killed in a trucking accident. There was no will. The mother contacted me to open up an estate and to pursue the case. We filed in probate court to get the mother named as the administrator of the estate, which would open up the process by getting her the letters of authority so she could pursue the personal injury case.
The Process for Wrongful Death Cases
The process of investigating a wrongful death case involves investigating both the liability and the damages. For example, in a trucking accident case, the attorneys obtained the police report, the photos, and the accident reconstruction that was done by the police. At the same time, there was a dispute in the case as far as liability and if there was comparative negligence on the part of the driver of the car that the client was a passenger in. All of the physical evidence of the trucks and the cars were saved.
Each party retained an accident reconstructionist to investigate the physical evidence and to come up with their own determination on liability. In addition, attorneys would talk to the lay witnesses and the police officers as far as liability and damages. They would even go so far as to get past tax returns if they thought it could help the case. They would do an investigation and try to evaluate the relationship between the family and the deceased. They would try to evaluate both the economic and non-economic damages.
Gathering Evidence in Wrongful Death Cases
Evidence gathered in the wrongful death case is not any different than evidence collected in other personal injury cases. In fact, it is very similar. The distinction is that in a wrongful death case there often an ongoing criminal investigation.
A lot of the physical evidence may still be in the possession of the police and the detectives. In a typical personal injury case, there is either going to be a traffic citation or there is not. Typically, all the evidence is released in a criminal investigation, which often happens in a wrongful death situation. There is an ongoing investigation and they are not able to get access to all of the evidence until after the criminal investigation is over.
How Long a Case Might Take
Generally, a wrongful death case could be a short period of time or it could be a long period of time from start to finish. Victims have two years from the date of the accident to either settle the wrongful death case or file the lawsuit. Once they file the lawsuit, typically they could settle the case within six months, but it could take up to a couple of years. If the case went to trial and was appealed, the process could last five or six years. It is important for victims to be cognizant of this during the Bowling Green wrongful death case process.
Factors Impacting the Longevity of Cases
Factors that could affect how long the wrongful death case takes could involve how clear the liability, the legal responsibility, is in the case and how much insurance coverage there is. For example, if there is a small amount of money in the insurance coverage plan and the defendant is not collectible, there is no upside or advantage in filing the lawsuit or dragging the case out. The goal would be to try to maximize the recovery for the estate. If there is a very large amount of money involved and a disputed liability, oftentimes to maximize the recovery a lawsuit needs to be filed and there has to be a substantial investigation to determine both damages and liability.
How The Cause of Death Influences the Process
The cause of death determines how the case would look. In a wrongful death case, oftentimes an attorney may try to obtain the results of an autopsy and they may want to get the coroner’s verdict. The reason for this is in order to pursue a wrongful death case, they have to show that as a proximate cause of the act of the defendant and that is why the person died. If there are alternative causes of the person dying, it may not be a proper wrongful death case. For example, if someone was injured in a car accident, they end up dying three months later, and the coroner determines that the cause of death is cancer, the defense may argue that the trucking accident may have caused some substantial injuries, but the proximate cause of the death was cancer.
Therefore, a wrongful death case is improper. Instead, it would just be a lawsuit to pursue compensation for the economic and non-economic damages of the underlying trucking accident.
Enlist the Help of an Experienced Legal Professional
The Bowling Green wrongful death case process is unlike any other personal injury claim because of the severity of the effects that a crash has caused. When you lose a loved one, grief, anger, and helplessness are all common feelings associated with untimely passings. Fortunately, there are attorneys who could help you recover the compensation you need and grant you the peace of mind you seek after a loved one has passed because of another’s negligent actions. Reach out to an attorney who could help today and start your confidential consultation.