After the passing of a loved one, searching for a wrongful death attorney can feel slimy. Trust us: It's necessary.
If you've had a family member or partner die because of another's negligence, you can file a wrongful death suit on his or her behalf. Many people consider a quickly-shrinking estate that needs to be divvied up among the heirs and think, "Man, Jerry wouldn't want us to hire a lawyer and waste all of his hard-earned money. We can figure this out ourselves. We'll just go online and research it!"
There's only so much Googling that one can do in a situation like this.
Additionally (presumably), all of you are grieving the loss of your loved one. Will you be thinking clearly enough to research all of the relevant statutory laws? What if there are federal laws, too? Are those double laws? Will you know all of the filing dates and be able to meet every discovery request? Each state has different conditions for wrongful death cases, and you will likely also be dealing with probate claims as well so you can disburse the decedent's estate to all the legal heirs.
These are only a few considerations to keep in mind. If any of those legal filing deadlines is missed, you might lose the right to file the case entirely and the negligence case will disappear.
It's much easier to hand it over to an attorney and simply grieve. The money in attorney's fees will be well spent because you will know that your loved one has been properly taken care of.
Find the right wrongful death attorney for your case
Key Aspects to Look for in a Wrongful Death Attorney
That being said, here are some good things to look for in a wrongful death lawyer.
- How much experience does s/he have in the specific area of your case? For instance, if your relative died in a construction accident, you'll want someone who's well-versed in construction law.
- How much time does s/he have to devote to your case? If this lawyer is very popular and has several high-profile cases, you might want to find someone else who can really focus on you.
- What other members of his/her firm will be working on your case? If an associate is going to do the entire thing, that's fine -- but make sure you're getting billed at the lower rate.
- What do other attorneys think of this lawyer? High opinion? Low opinion? Neutral?
- What do online reviews say?
- Are there any disciplinary actions against this attorney? Make sure to check the relevant state bar association website.
If you're unable to pick someone, you could also do something as simple as ask a friend or acquaintance who's had to deal with this unfortunate situation and use the same attorney they did. However, when suing for negligence, you'll want to suit up and find the best person you can.
Have you had to work with a wrongful death attorney? If you feel you can, please share your story with us in the comments.