Losing a loved one due to someone else’s negligence is heart-wrenching. Your world turns upside down, and amidst the emotional turmoil, you face financial burdens and legal complexities.
During this trying time, a personal injury lawyer can be your advocate and guide. They shoulder the legal burden, allowing you to focus on healing and remembrance. From establishing liability to calculating damages, navigating negotiations, and presenting your case to a jury, an attorney is crucial to securing the compensation you deserve.
The advent of a tragic death does not in itself establish a wrongful death claim. To win in court, the family must prove that the defendant was negligent, reckless, or acted intentionally in causing their loved one’s death. Most wrongful death claims have their basis in negligence, such as a motorist striking a pedestrian he failed to notice crossing the street.
A fair number of claims also involve recklessness. A common example is a driver drastically exceeding the speed limit and causing a fatal accident.
Finally, in rare situations, wrongful deaths occur because of intentional actions, such as a vicious assault.
In the paragraphs below, we discuss how a Hawaii personal injury lawyer helps families establish liability for the death of a loved one.
Establishing Negligence in Kamuela
When handling a wrongful death claim, the lawyer helps the family establish negligence on the part of the defendant. Negligence is a key concept in personal injury law, involving four primary elements: Duty of Care, Breach of Duty of Care, Harm, and Damages. The plaintiff must prove each element to establish the defendant’s liability in a wrongful death case in Hawaii.
Proving Duty of Care
The first element in establishing negligence is demonstrating that the defendant had a duty of care toward the decedent. Duty of care is the responsibility one individual or entity has to avoid causing harm to another. A personal injury lawyer will identify the relationship between the decedent and the defendant to demonstrate this duty. For instance, drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely to prevent harm to others on the road.
Proving Breach of Duty of Care
Once a duty of care is established, the lawyer must prove that the defendant breached this duty. Proving breach requires evidence that the defendant acted in a way that a reasonable person would not under the same circumstances. Also, a breach occurs when a defendant fails to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances.
For example, the plaintiff can prove a breach by showing that a driver was speeding, a doctor neglected to follow accepted procedures, or a company disregarded safety regulations.
Proving harm in a wrongful death case means demonstrating that the breach of duty directly resulted in the victim’s death. This is often one of the most challenging aspects of a wrongful death claim, as it requires establishing a clear causal link between the defendant’s actions (or inactions) and the decedent’s death. The lawyer may use evidence such as medical records, accident reports, and expert testimony to make this connection.
Lastly, a wrongful death lawyer helps the family establish that they suffered damages due to their loved one’s unnatural death. These damages encompass financial losses, such as loss of income or inheritance, medical expenses, and funeral costs, and non-economic damages, such as loss of companionship, moral support, and love.
A personal injury lawyer guides the family in documenting these losses and calculating a fair monetary value.
Personal injury lawyers provide invaluable assistance to families pursuing a wrongful death claim by helping them establish negligence and, ultimately, the defendant’s liability. They meticulously gather and analyze the evidence, apply legal knowledge, and present a compelling case to win the family the justice they deserve.
Calculating Damages in Kamuela
When faced with the premature death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, determining damages in a wrongful death claim can be challenging. The services of a personal injury lawyer are invaluable in making this determination. Wrongful death lawyers guide the survivors through the intricate process of calculating economic and non-economic damages and assessing whether punitive damages apply. The objective is to ensure the family receives just compensation to mitigate the financial and emotional toll the loss has taken on their lives.
Calculating Economic Damages
Economic damages cover the financial losses the decedent’s family incurred due to the wrongful death. A personal injury lawyer helps in calculating these damages, which typically include the following:
Any medical costs related to the decedent’s final illness or injury are compensable. These include hospital stays, surgeries, and medications to rehabilitation services.
A wrongful death lawyer calculates the income the decedent would have earned had they lived to retirement and beyond. Lost income can include wages, benefits, and other earnings the decedent reasonably could have expected to acquire if not for the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of the defendant.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
The costs associated with laying the loved one to rest are also recoverable.
Loss of services
Compensation for the loss of the decedent’s work extends to unpaid jobs. For instance, if the decedent was a homemaker providing important services such as childcare, home maintenance, or other valuable tasks, these contributions must be factored into the economic damages.
A wrongful death lawyer can also work closely with financial experts to quantify these economic damages accurately. The aim is to preserve the family’s financial security despite losing the decedent’s contributions.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages in a wrongful death case represent the intangible losses that the decedent’s family members suffer. These can be more challenging to quantify due to their subjective nature, but a skilled wrongful death lawyer can help families identify and express these losses in monetary terms.
Non-economic damages typically include:
- Pain and suffering include the emotional distress experienced by family members due to their loved one’s death.
- Loss of companionship, such as the loss of love, affection, and companionship experienced by the spouse and children of the decedent.
- Emotional distress, including the psychological impact of grief and loss endured by the family members.
- Loss of guidance, such as the absence of guidance, counsel, and nurturing the decedent would have provided to his or her children.
- Loss of consortium for the surviving spouse.
While assigning a monetary value to these losses is challenging, they constitute a significant part of the wrongful death damages.
Lastly, it’s important to note that punitive damages apply only in cases where the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious or intentionally harmful, such as in cases of murder. These damages are designed not to compensate the family but to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future. While not commonly awarded in wrongful death cases, an experienced personal injury lawyer can assess the case’s unique circumstances to determine if pursuing punitive damages is appropriate.
Negotiating a Settlement in Kamuela
Negotiating a wrongful death settlement in Hawaii is a complex process requiring the expertise of a skilled personal injury lawyer. The process typically begins with the lawyer conducting a thorough investigation of the incident, collecting crucial evidence, consulting with experts, and calculating the full extent of damages.
Once the lawyer has built a strong case, they send a demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company. This letter outlines the facts of the case, the evidence, the calculation of damages, and the amount of compensation the survivors are due.
The insurance company typically responds with a lower counteroffer.
During negotiations, the lawyer utilizes the collected evidence and legal arguments to persuade the insurance company to offer a fair settlement. They emphasize the strength of the evidence, the extent of the damages, and the emotional toll on the family, leveraging these factors to secure the best possible outcome.
If the insurance company offers an attractive settlement that meets the family’s needs, the lawyer will recommend accepting it. However, if negotiations yield only an unacceptable offer, the lawyer may advise proceeding to trial.
Throughout the process, the lawyer communicates with the family, informing them and involving them in major decisions. The ultimate goal is to secure a settlement that fully compensates the survivors for their financial and emotional losses.
In a wrongful death claim trial, the importance of having a skilled personal injury attorney cannot be overstated. Legal proceedings are inherently complex, and wrongful death cases require mastery in multiple areas of law and proficiency in trial advocacy.
An experienced wrongful death attorney is versed in the intricacies of this type of law and is skilled at navigating the procedural aspects of a court case. Wrongful death lawyers know how to construct a solid case, set a winning strategy, gather and present compelling evidence to establish liability and demonstrate the full extent of the damages.
Moreover, an attorney’s skill in persuading a jury is pivotal. Even if the case never sees trial, the defense is more willing to offer an attractive settlement when they know they are up against a skillful litigator. When a case goes to trial, expert wrongful death lawyers paint a clear and empathetic picture of the decedent’s life, the survivors’ loss, and the defendant’s negligence, capturing the jury’s sympathy and understanding. They also must adeptly cross-examine defense witnesses, exposing weaknesses in the defense’s arguments.
Importantly, an attorney’s expertise extends to arguing damages. They must convincingly articulate the financial impact on the survivors and the profound emotional suffering they’ve experienced. A persuasive argument can motivate a jury to award maximum damages, ensuring the survivors receive the compensation they deserve.
Finally, a seasoned attorney provides much-needed support, guiding the family through the legal process during grief and emotional distress.
Wrongful Death Claims Versus Survival Actions in Kamuela
A wrongful death claim and a survival action arise from an individual’s death but serve different purposes. The deceased’s family brings a wrongful death claim to recover damages for their losses, such as lost financial support, companionship, and emotional distress. The decedent’s estate pursues a survival action to recover damages the deceased person could have sought had they lived. These include the deceased’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, and lost income from the time of injury until their death.
The journey to justice after a wrongful death is challenging, but with the right legal help, your family can receive just compensation. A dedicated personal injury lawyer is your ally, championing your cause and working tirelessly to secure the maximum damages for your loss.
Talk to an Attorney Right Away in Kamuela
You don’t have to navigate this path alone. Contact the compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorneys at Olson & Sons. Let us help you honor your loved one’s memory by securing the justice they—and you—deserve.
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