If you recently lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence, filing a wrongful death claim can help you get compensation for their outstanding medical bills, the loss of their contribution to household income, loss of companionship, guidance, and consortium, and your and your family’s emotional pain and suffering.
Filing a wrongful death claim can seem like an intimidating process, especially when you’re still grieving your loved one’s loss. However, the process is easier than you think, especially if you have an experienced law firm on your side.
If you’re thinking about filing a wrongful death claim, here’s what you need to do.
Ensure You’re Eligible to File the Claim
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one, even if the deceased was a close family member. In Oklahoma, wrongful death claims can only be filed by the appointed personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.
This person is usually, but not always, named in a will if the deceased created one before they died. If they didn’t create a will, or if they didn’t name a personal representative in their will before they died, the court will appoint a personal representative to manage their estate. This person is often the deceased’s spouse or child. Close relatives can also ask to be appointed as personal representatives.
File the Wrongful Death Claim Within 2 Years of Your Loved One’s Passing
It’s important to file the claim as soon as possible after your loved one’s death. In Oklahoma, all wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date the death occurred.
However, you shouldn’t wait to file until the deadline is even remotely close to due. Instead, you should file as soon as possible. Filing right away means you won’t have to wait as long to get the benefits you and your other family members need, and the evidence you need for your claim will be easier to compile. It also means you won’t risk having the statute of limitations expire.
Call an Ohio Wrongful Death Lawyer
Wrongful death claims are legally complex, and they shouldn’t be filed without the help of a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer accomplishes a few very important things after your loved one’s death.
First, having a lawyer on your side allows you to focus on grieving, honoring your loved one’s memory, and moving forward with your life. Instead of being bogged down by paperwork and other requirements of your wrongful death claim, you can spend time recovering from your loss with your family and friends.
Second, a lawyer can handle all of the evidence-gathering on your behalf. Wrongful death claims require significant amounts of evidence to succeed, and that evidence often comes in the form of medical records, accident reports, video footage, and more. Finding, analyzing, and presenting this evidence to support a wrongful death claim requires years of legal experience and knowledge.
Follow Your Lawyer’s Instructions and Advice
When your wrongful death claim begins, your lawyer will handle virtually all of the work on your behalf. However, they will have advice for you on what to do over the coming weeks and months as they work to either settle the wrongful death claim or sue the at-fault party.
Some advice you may receive includes:
- Don’t talk about the wrongful death claim with people outside your family or legal counsel. You should especially avoid talking about the claim on social media.
- Direct all communication from the at-fault party or insurance company to your lawyer. It’s common for at-fault parties and insurance adjusters to contact claimants in the hopes of getting incriminating statements that they can use to avoid paying settlements.
- Never accept a settlement offer without talking to your lawyer first. This is another common tactic used by insurers to avoid paying surviving family members the money they deserve after their loved ones’ deaths.
Going to Trial is Unlikely, But Sometimes Necessary to Get Full Compensation
Wrongful death claims are similar to other types of personal injury claims in that they rarely need to go to trial. And even when they do proceed to trial, they often settle before a jury delivers a verdict.
The odds are overwhelmingly high that your case will resolve without ending up in court, but if it doesn’t, you don’t have anything to worry about. Your attorney will advise you on when and where you might need to make a statement and if you’ll need to appear in the courtroom.
Our Oklahoma Wrongful Death Lawyers Are Ready to Help
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we know how devastating the loss of a loved one is for entire families. The grief can be overwhelming, but if your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for your losses.
As Oklahoma wrongful death lawyers, it’s our goal to help people like you and your family get that compensation while remaining sensitive to your needs during this difficult time. Contact us today for a free case review. There are no upfront fees, and you owe us nothing unless we get compensation for you.