Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times of your life. This time is even more trying when the death was the result of someone else’s negligent actions or wrongdoings. Contacting one of our experienced, reputable Little Rock wrongful death lawyers at your earliest convenience can secure a comfortable future for you and your family.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 150,000 unintentional injury deaths occurred in 2015. The causes of the majority of those deaths were falls, motor vehicle accidents, and unintentional poisonings. Because those deaths were unintentional, a majority of them were most likely preventable. It’s the preventable factor that will convince a judge or jury the death is legally wrongful.
In the event of a loved one’s death that could have been prevented, you may have the right to file a wrongful death claim if it can be found that negligence led to the event of death. While wrongful death laws vary from state to state, most allow financial compensation for the sustained damages to the estate or the family. If you’d like to know more information, we encourage you to keep reading.
Defining Wrongful Death in Arkansas
As mentioned above, the state establishes all wrongful death laws. Arkansas Code 16-62-105, updated recently in 2017, defines a wrongful death as being caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. Family members also have the option of filing a claim for an unborn child if the death resulted from actions or inactions of another individual or an illegal abortion.
In a wrongful death claim, the family will need to appoint a personal representative to handle everything. This person may have been previously established by the decedent, or the court can make the decision. Then, they will start the work to show how the family will be affected because a negligent party caused the fatality.
If there is a possibility the death was caused intentionally, a separate criminal law case can be held at the same time. Because a wrongful death claim is a civil law case, compensation is expressed solely in financial terms. With a criminal law case, however, the guilty party may be penalized with probation or prison time.
Sources of Wrongful Death
While many accidents result in recoverable injuries, that is not always the case. When the injuries are too severe, people can lose their lives. At McMath Woods P.A., we represent the family members of victims in Little Rock whose accidents happened for a variety of reasons and in a variety of settings. Some of those sources include:
- Aviation Accidents. Reckless pilots or faulty machinery could cause a plane accident.
- Bus Crashes. People on buses don’t have seatbelts to keep them in place in an accident and could potentially suffer life-threatening injuries.
- Car Wrecks. Drivers who speed, drive distractedly, or fail to obey other traffic laws in Little Rock risk the lives of others on the road.
- Medical Malpractice. When doctors, nurses, or even hospital administration makes a mistake, they could possibly give someone the wrong medication, make a surgical error, or mess up their chart that could lead to an untimely death.
- Motorcycle Accidents and Bike Accidents. People on motorcycles and bikes don’t have a lot of protection, so collisions can easily become deadly. These accidents are common because the vehicles are smaller than the average car.
- Nursing Home Abuse Cases. A neglectful nursing home could prevent your loved one from getting the care they need or intentionally cause them harm.
- Truck Accidents. The size of a commercial vehicle usually makes the accidents more severe and could cause loss of life. This is especially true if the accident is between a large truck and a smaller passenger vehicle.
- On-the-Job Accidents. Typically, there are kinds of jobs with more risks, like construction workers. However, anytime there is negligence in the workplace or at the worksite, one could face risks that could potentially be life-threatening.
- Defective Products. Faulty products could become electrical hazards or stop working and put the user in danger. Defective automobiles are a common cause of wrongful death.
- Slip and Fall Accidents. Slippery or unstable areas that don’t warn people of the danger could cause fatal falls. These accidents often happen in public areas like grocery stores, casinos, and nursing homes.
One common factor between these different types of accidents is that they usually occur because of the negligent or reckless actions of an individual. This could be someone driving dangerously, or someone at a company allowing a hazardous product on the market. Their actions have the potential to put someone’s life at risk and put their families through an unbearable amount of pain.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Little Rock
In Arkansas, like most other states, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the person who brings the claim to court. If there is no personal representative, an heir may file the claim. Heirs include surviving spouses, children, parents or siblings, or persons standing in place of parents, i.e. “in loco parentis.” It’s often best to hire a wrongful death lawyer to ensure the claim is filed properly and all paperwork is in order. This can prevent compensation delays.
Wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations, meaning they must be filed within a certain period of time. One year after the date of death is the deadline for filing the claim. If the claim is not filed within this time period, the court has the right to throw out the case. Your lawyer will work to make sure your claim is filed on time, so your family doesn’t miss out on the opportunity for much-needed compensation.
In certain instances, however, the statute of limitations may be extended or delayed. This happens most often when a child is left without a parent. That child will have up to three years after they turn 21 to file a claim. An experienced lawyer will understand how the laws apply to each client’s unique situation.
Damages You May Be Able to Seek
When you unexpectedly lose a loved one, the emotional turmoil can make the idea of dealing with a legal matter seem out of the question. However, suddenly losing that financial support can be extremely scary. You may be wondering how you’re going to afford certain costs your loved one may have incurred. This could include hospital bills for treatment, conducted tests, or procedures. Then, you may worry about how you’re going to keep running your household when you’ve lost a source of income and support. You shouldn’t have to think about how you’re going to pay off bills and maintain a living in this difficult time when you should be given space to grieve.
This is why it’s important to have a wrongful death lawyer from Little Rock to help you file your claim. They’ll help you get compensation to cover these costs, so you don’t have to stress about financial struggles.
Your lawyer can explain the intricacies of Arkansas law and how you’re supposed to proceed with these claims. Arkansas separates wrongful death claims into two categories: estate claims and family claims. You should know the differences, so you know what to expect for the outcome and what damages you’re seeking to recover.
Estate claims seek compensation for the losses the deceased suffered as a result of dying. Common damages sought for estate claims include funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering endured before death, and the loss of value of the remaining life in regard to wages.
Family claims seek compensation for losses the family members have suffered as a result of the untimely death. Common family claim damages include the loss of financial support, loss of care and guidance, and loss of household services. Damages paid for the family claim are awarded directly to family members. Those individuals must decide how to divide the money. If they are unable to do so, the court may make an official ruling.
What Will Your Lawyer Need to Prove in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Your Little Rock wrongful death lawyer will investigate your case and compile the evidence you need to present a successful claim. You should know what they need so you can provide any helpful information that will strengthen your attorney’s argument. They will prove the following:
- The Deceased Was Owed a Duty of Care. Whether your loved one was driving a car, going to the doctor, or using a product, they were owed a duty of care from the negligent party. The other drivers on the road need to drive safely and follow the law, a doctor should treat your illness or injury without causing additional harm, and manufacturing companies must ensure their products won’t hurt users.
- That Duty of Care Wasn’t Upheld. When the other party acts carelessly or recklessly, they don’t meet the duty of care, meaning that they put your loved one in danger. So a person driving wasn’t paying attention to the road, a doctor ignored symptoms, or a manufacturing company cut corners on a product.
- The Negligent Party Caused the Wrongful Death. With the help of medical records and expert witnesses, your attorney will connect the negligent party’s actions as the reason why your loved one passed away.
- The Family Suffered Losses. Then, they will show that the deceased’s family suffered from economic and noneconomic damages because this person’s actions caused it.
We’ll do everything we can to get you and your family the justice you deserve. While this process can take time, it will be worth it because you gave your loved one a voice. We know that this will not bring your loved one back, but you did make sure the negligent party was held accountable for their actions.
The Benefits of Hiring a Wrongful Death Lawyer
It’s normal to still have reservations about this legal process. Your family may consider handling the sensitive matter themselves or avoid filing a claim altogether. This, however, can be a decision that places your family in serious financial trouble. It’s best if you can think of a wrongful death claim as the personal injury settlement your loved one would have recovered if they had survived the accident.
There are a number of reasons hiring a lawyer is a good call after unexpectedly losing a loved one. First off, your attorney will understand the legal process completely. Their in-depth knowledge and experience will help you build a strong case that proves your loved one’s accident never should have happened.
An attorney can also save you a significant amount of time. Wrongful death cases can be time-consuming because of the types of documents that need to be filed, the evidence that needs to be reviewed, and the strict deadlines. Allowing a legal team to handle these tasks will also give you the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones, grieve your loss, and heal.
The right law firm will be a great source of support for your family after the wrongful loss of a family member. They will relieve you of the complicated legal burdens and allow you the opportunity to think clearly—which can help you build a stronger case on your loved one’s behalf. Sometimes, when families handle matters like this on their own their emotions get the best of them—which can jeopardize a case.
Contact McMath Woods P.A. Today
The Little Rock wrongful death lawyers from McMath Woods P.A. understand the devastating impact the unexpected loss of a loved one can have on a family. But it’s important to know that you have legal options and people who can help you.
In the event of a wrongful death, filing a claim can be difficult because of factors that often complicate these types of cases. In some cases, the negligence may be easy to identify, like in the instance of medical malpractice or a car accident; however, not all negligence is that easily identifiable. Extensive research may be required to uncover the guilty party. We’re prepared to put in the time and effort it takes to find out what happened to your loved one and how the guilty party caused their death.
If you feel someone else caused your loved one’s death, our attorneys can help you seek compensation to ease your financial burdens and help your family find peace. Reach out to us today for a free evaluation of your claim.