Wrongful death suits are some of the most complex personal injury cases. For one, they are civil suits as opposed to criminal cases. Therefore the litigation process is different. Moreover, it involves filing a claim on behalf of someone else. This makes it even more complicated. Minnesota mourns the loss of approximately 350 lives yearly due to devastating car accidents, with countless others enduring life-changing injuries.
And that’s not all—this state also bears witness to around 18 tragic boating accidents that end in fatalities every year.
Additionally, like other personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations applies. For example, you have three years to file a wrongful death claim in Rochester and the greater Minnesota area.
For these reasons, it’s easy to make blunders that may compromise the case. We’ve identified seven common mistakes to avoid getting rightful compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one.
1. Don’t wait too long to initiate a claim
The accident scene is typically cleared in hours, and the locals move on within a few days. So, you risk losing precious evidence if you delay. Moreover, witnesses may forget critical details if you wait too long.
Additionally, you must be wary of the statutes of limitations. You cannot file a wrongful death claim after the provided period elapses. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about deadlines if you hire a personal injury lawyer in Rochester, MN.
2. Don’t speak about the incident publicly
Anything you say publicly can be used against you during the settlement or in court. This applies to radio, TV, social media, and other public forums. For instance, a single social media post can set the case on fire and cause people to turn on one another–even if they were previously inseparable. So think before you click.
Worse still, the media may misrepresent your position. Or you may blubber out of grief and say a few things you cannot take back. These missteps can also downplay the accused’s culpability. Moreover, they put the decedent’s reputation and your family’s credibility on the line.
3. Avoid in-fighting within the family
Family in-fighting isn’t uncommon. For instance, sibling rivalries aren’t new. Similarly, fights between children, the surviving spouse, and other immediate family members are possible.
Such drama can jeopardize the case. For example, everyone may give a different account of the incident. Alternatively, aggrieved parties may vent their frustrations to the media or other third parties. A single post on Facebook or Twitter can kill the case.
4. Don’t speak to the insurance adjuster
Insurance adjusters want fast settlements when they believe their client is at fault. Indeed, the insurance adjuster may call you within hours of hearing about the impending suit, offering to settle immediately.
Don’t speak to them for two reasons. First, they’ll likely record the conversation and use whatever you say against you during negotiations. More importantly, they will exploit your inexperience to get away with a low offer.
5. Don’t limit your search for liable parties
Dwelling on the obvious culprit while forgetting everyone else is a common undoing. For instance, the claimant may focus solely on the at-fault driver in a car accident suit. Or they may dwell on the landlord in a slip-and-fall case.
Doing so sets free other potentially liable parties while limiting your compensation. So, cast your net wider. For example, the parent company, employer, and partner organizations may all be liable in a slip-and-fall wrongful death suit.
6. Don’t undervalue your claim
The state’s statutes define the types of damages and the maximum amount eligible to be awarded for each damage. Nonetheless, don’t settle for less.
For instance, besides monetary damages, such as incurred medical bills and lost income, you must consider the deceased’s age, health, and earning ability (based on education, training, etc.). You must also consider how much the deceased suffered before dying and how much suffering their death has caused the survivors.
7. Don’t negotiate without a lawyer
Yes, it’s optional. Also, representing yourself is cheaper in the short term. However, the potential reward of hiring an experienced wrongful death lawyer is massive.
First, it saves you the pain of an emotional settlement process during the grieving period. Additionally, their legal experience and superior research skills guarantee a stronger case. Above all, an experienced Rochester personal injury lawyer guarantees a higher settlement, typically 2-3 times more than you’d get when representing yourself.
You deserve rightful compensation if you lose a loved one in an accident. Unfortunately, pursuing compensation is a lengthy and often complex process. Follow the tips above to avoid common missteps for full compensation.