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5 Myths about Wrongful Death Claims

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Adam Taub
5 Myths about Wrongful Death Claims

If a person dies as the result of someone’s negligence or misconduct, we call it a wrongful death. This means that the liable party did not intend to cause a loss of life, yet the death could be prevented if they had acted responsibly or paid due diligence. The survivors of the victim are usually eligible to file a wrongful death claim, which is a civil action aimed at obtaining financial compensation for general, special, and sometimes punitive damages. If you have recently lost a loved one in an accident that wasn’t their fault, you might qualify to sue the perpetrator for damages.

Cases involving a wrongful death tend to be complicated and most people hesitate to initiate a claim. Some do not even realize that claiming compensation is an option, and others make unrealistic assumptions about it. Legal guidance and representation is a must to succeed and gain a reasonable wrongful death settlement. Wrongful Death Attorney in Houston, TX, debunks five myths surrounding wrongful death claims to provide you some clarity in the matter:

1. Claiming compensation for a dead person is unethical

In general, wrongful deaths are accidental, i.e. the culprit does not kill the victim deliberately; for this reason, survivors often think that asking for financial reimbursement would make them look greedy or atrocious. The truth is that wrongful death lawsuits do not primarily concern the money. The actual purpose is to hold the transgressor accountable for their negligent or reckless behavior, and set an example. When the at-fault party has to pay for their actions, they are encouraged to learn from their mistake and refrain from repeating it. On the other hand, the family deprived of a loved one is able to cope with the financial implications of the tragedy.

2. Wrongful death is a criminal case

A wrongful death claim does not imply criminal prosecution. Wrongful death is not the same as a homicide because it is void of preplanning and intention. A case of homicide is tried in criminal court, so the alleged offender receives a prison sentence and additional legal penalties if they are convicted, i.e. proven guilty. Wrongful death cases are the same as personal injury lawsuits, which are based upon claims of negligence or misconduct. These claims are resolved in civil courts that aim to compensate victims for their loss. The defendant is not exposed to criminal proceedings, but is required to accept liability and provide financial reimbursement for the damages sustained by the plaintiff; there is no imprisonment or additional penalties as with criminal sentences.

3. Only immediate family is illegible

The deceased’s immediate family i.e. spouse and children (biological and adopted) are first in line to file a wrongful death claim, but not the only eligible candidates to receive compensation. For instance, if the deceased never married or has no children, the petition can be initiated by the parents or legal guardians. If the parents are not alive, dependent siblings or grandparents also qualify. If the victim had a partner and/or children outside of marriage, they too would be equally deserving of the wrongful death benefits. Any other dependents, such as a relative or foster child are also deemed eligible in many states.

4. Litigation guarantees a hefty settlement

The thing about litigation is that it is always risky, unpredictable, and costly. Almost 95% of personal injury cases (including wrongful death claims) are settled out of court. Going to court is time consuming, stressful, and expensive for both sides, which is why litigation is avoided. What you are offered in a private settlement is guaranteed and you can receive it quickly. The courtroom jury may award you a bigger amount and punitive damages, but only if you win the case. If you lose, you don’t get a penny from the defendant and you have to bear the additional burden of legal bills.

5. Insurance adjusters help out claimants

One thing every claimant needs to understand is that the insurance adjuster is not their friend. If you think that the insurer will sympathize with you and help maximize your benefit, you are obviously misguided. Insurance companies earn profits by denying legit claims or minimizing payouts as much as possible. They don’t care about your loss or hardships, so they won’t be any help. If you want to ensure reasonable compensation and protect yourself from the conspiracies of insurers, hire a competent wrongful death attorney to handle your case. 

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Adam Taub
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