Understanding the Challenges of Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. The grief and pain can be overwhelming. When that loss occurs due to the actions/inactions of another party, it compounds the tragedy. While no amount of money can undo the harm, pursuing a wrongful death claim can provide financial compensation to help cover medical bills, funeral costs, lost income, and other damages. 

However, getting through the legal process surrounding these claims in Massachusetts can be challenging. The lawyers at Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah understand the challenges involved and have prepared this blog post to shed light on some of the key obstacles families may face.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

This legal claim allows family members to seek compensation for a loved one’s death caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another person or entity. In Massachusetts, wrongful death claims can be brought by a spouse, children, parents, and certain other dependents of the deceased.

Strict Time Limits

In Massachusetts, there is a statute of limitations that imposes strict time limits for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Generally, the claim must be filed within three years from the date of the deceased person’s injury that led to their death. If the suit is not filed within this timeframe, the court will likely dismiss the case, regardless of its merits. Exceptions may apply in certain circumstances, but they are limited. The compressed timeline can add significant pressure, especially when grieving families are already dealing with emotional turmoil.

Establishing Negligence

A crucial aspect of a wrongful death claim is proving that the death resulted from another party’s negligence or intentionally harmful act. This requires gathering and presenting substantial evidence to demonstrate the following elements:

  • Duty of care: The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased individual. For instance, drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely.
  • Breach of duty: The defendant breached their duty through an act or failure to act.
  • Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty directly caused the death.
  • Damages: The surviving family members suffered quantifiable damages, including lost income, medical expenses, or pain and suffering.

Collecting the necessary evidence can be arduous, especially if the responsible party attempts to conceal or destroy it. An experienced wrongful death attorney can deal with this process effectively.

Dealing With Complex Legal Procedures

Wrongful death lawsuits involve complex legal procedures and rules that can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the civil justice system. From filing the initial complaint to conducting depositions and ultimately presenting the case at trial, each step requires meticulous attention to detail and adherence to procedural rules. Even a minor misstep could jeopardize the entire case.

Economic and Non-Economic Damages

In wrongful death cases, damages are typically divided into two categories – economic and non-economic. Economic damages are tangible losses that can be calculated. They include:

  • Medical expenses incurred before the death
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Lost income and benefits the deceased would have earned
  • Loss of inheritance or financial support

Non-economic damages include intangible losses like:

  • Loss of companionship, comfort, and support
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Loss of parental guidance for surviving children

Quantifying non-economic damages can be challenging, as they are highly subjective. An experienced attorney can help present compelling arguments and evidence to support the appropriate compensation.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

In many wrongful death cases, insurance companies are involved and represent the interests of the defendant or their employer. These companies often employ tactics to minimize their financial liability, including:

  • Denying or disputing claims
  • Offering lowball settlements
  • Delaying the claims process
  • Shifting blame to the deceased

Dealing with insurance claims and negotiations requires legal expertise and a thorough understanding of insurance laws and practices.

Working with an attorney who understands the sensitivity of these cases and can provide compassionate guidance can alleviate some of the strain. Additionally, many wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only collect a percentage of the awarded compensation, reducing the upfront financial burden.

Seek Legal Help

It is important to remember that every wrongful death case is unique. The specific challenges you face will depend on the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. Consulting with our experienced wrongful death attorneys is the best way to understand your options and determine the best course of action.

While pursuing a wrongful death claim won’t reverse the events, it can provide much-needed financial security and justice during a time of immense grief. Altman Nussbaum Shunnarah is here to help you through every step of the process. Call us today at 617-222-2222 for a free consultation.

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