Understanding Wrongful Death- Legal Help and Your Rights

A wrongful death requires justice. You need an expert in wrongful death law.

Auto fatalities are far too common in Iowa. In fact, according to the road safety website Zero Fatalities, there have been over 3,000 vehicle fatalities in Iowa over the last 10 years alone.

What is a “Wrongful Death”?

Wrongful death occurs when a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional act. These tragic events leave families grappling with emotional pain and financial burdens. Seeking justice through a wrongful death claim can help families recover damages and hold responsible parties accountable.

Data source: zerofatalities.com
Vehicle Fatalities

Death is painful, especially when death is caused by another’s actions. When it comes to this kind of loss, nothing is easy.

Dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit is easy. Dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit is usually the last thing you want to be doing.

You may think you should sue a person directly or maybe you believe a company is at fault. You may have more options than you know. For example, in many states, car manufacturers may be held responsible for defective products in their cars, while trucking companies may be held accountable for truck accidents if their employee breaks trucking rules.

What do wrongful death law experts say?

Pete Leehey, our expert wrongful death lawyer, says that common causes of wrongful death can include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, and (like personal injury cases) even premise liability injuries.

If you’ve been impacted by a wrongful death, you may be entitled to financial compensation

Image of a man standing in a cemetery for a blog about wrongful death lawsuits

If you’ve lost a loved one in a tragic accident, we are here to help you. Though no amount of money can take the pain away from a lost family member, financial compensation can help lessen the burden.

Courts consider many factors when considering how much to award the family and we can help you understand all of them so you have a better idea of what to expect along the way.

We’ll answer your questions, provide a clear direction forward, and help you walk down Recovery Road. We will be there to support your needs as you handle your loss. Our attorneys have handled thousands of cases, and are ready to guide you through this painful transition. Here are some questions you may be asking yourself.

What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death claims arise from various circumstances, including:

  • Automobile Accidents: Fatalities caused by negligent or reckless driving.
  • Workplace Accidents: Fatal incidents occurring due to unsafe working conditions or employer negligence.
  • Product Liability: Death resulting from defective or unsafe products.
  • Criminal Acts: Homicide or other intentional acts leading to death.

Legal Conaisderations of a Wrongful Death Claim

To successfully pursue a wrongful death claim, certain legal elements must be proven:

  1. Duty of Care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased.
  2. Breach of Duty: The defendant breached that duty through negligence or intentional harm.
  3. Causation: The breach of duty directly caused the death.
  4. Damages: The death resulted in quantifiable damages, such as medical expenses, funeral costs, lost income, and emotional suffering.

Who can receive financial compensation in a wrongful death claim?

Infographic listing common Iowa and Minnesota wrongful death damagesEach state is different. For example, Iowa Law stipulates that the following family members are eligible for financial compensation.

  1. The parents of the person who died
  2. The spouse of the person who died
  3. The children of the person who died (including adopted children, but not step-children)

You may notice that this list does not include other family members such as cousins, uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents, or siblings. This is because these family members may be entitled to compensation as beneficiaries according to the terms of the estate (Will and Testament) of the person who passed.

“I highly recommend The Biker Lawyers. Pete and his staff went above and beyond to help me when my husband died in a motorcycle accident. Very kind and professional and made sure I understood all the legal language.”

Mandy Sinnott Hitchcock

Compensation for Wrongful Death Claims

What kind of expenses and compensation could be covered under wrongful death?

Again, this varies from state to state, but in Iowa, the following are generally covered.

  • Pre-death loss of earnings
  • Lost lifetime earnings
  • Pre-death physical or mental loss of function or pain and suffering
  • Pre-death medical expenses
  • Interest on premature funeral expenses
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of companionship and guidance (also known as loss of consortium)

Once a settlement is reached, either the person at fault or an insurance company will be required to pay a specific amount. This payment can be made in the following ways.

A structured settlement

This means money will be paid to you on a schedule in accordance the terms of your settlement. Often these payments are dispersed monthly, but not always. The only potential issue with this type of agreement is that it can take a while before you get all of the money you are entitled to.

A lump-sum payment

With this option, you receive all compensation, economic and non-economic damages included, at once. This allows you to have access to funds quicker so that debts, such as legal fees, medical expenses, and funeral costs, may be paid off sooner.

The Legal Process of a Wrongful Death Claim

Here’s what you need to know about how to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

  1. Consultation with a Lawyer: It’s important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney to evaluate the case.
  2. Investigation: The attorney will investigate the circumstances surrounding the death, gather evidence, and identify liable parties.
  3. Filing the Claim: The attorney files the wrongful death claim on behalf of the family or estate.
  4. Negotiation: The attorney negotiates with the defendant’s insurance company or legal representatives for a fair settlement.
  5. Litigation: If a settlement cannot be reached, the case may proceed to trial, where a judge or jury will determine the outcome.

Why Legal Representation in a Wrongful Death Case is Important

Personal Injury Attorney Dan Matzdorff consults with a client about an accident

Navigating a wrongful death claim without legal assistance can be challenging due to the complexities of the legal system. Experienced attorneys can:

  • Provide expert advice and representation.
  • Handle paperwork and legal procedures.
  • Negotiate effectively with insurance companies.
  • Ensure the family’s rights and interests are protected.
  • Maximize the compensation awarded.

The road ahead may be long and hard, but we’re here to help. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Wrongful Death Lawsuits work, please complete the form below.

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