Wrongful Death Lawyers in Dover, DE, Fighting for Justice for Your Loved Ones
Have you lost a loved one due to the negligent conduct of another party? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation and hold responsible parties accountable for their actions. Anything from auto accidents to medical malpractice can result in an unexpected death, and while harm may not have been intentional, such negligent conduct cannot go unanswered. A wrongful death lawyer in Dover, DE may be able to help.
At Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law, our personal injury attorneys handle accident and wrongful death claims in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. We prosecute cases on behalf of families and individuals who have lost loved ones as a result of the negligent, careless, or reckless conduct of another person or company. We know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now, so contact us today.
Why Consult With a Wrongful Death Attorney?
Oftentimes after a catastrophic incident resulting in death, the family simply wants answers. What happened? How did this go wrong? Why did this happen to my family member? Was someone at fault? More often than not, we find that families come to us for legal help in wrongful death cases because they need their questions answered. It’s very hard to have closure if you have lingering questions about what happened and why.
In addition, families are often concerned about how they will pay for certain things. For instance, where will the money come from to handle funeral arrangements? Who will support any minor children of the victim? A personal injury claim helps cover losses when victims survive, but when a personal injury leads to death, it’s possible to recover additional damages.
In many cases, our law firm is able to assist the family in obtaining compensation to provide financial support and for non-economic losses.
What is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is the death of a person that occurs as a result of some conduct that is not acceptable under the law. Each state has its own wrongful death law or statute. We can look to statutes in the applicable state to see how each defines wrongful death. For example, if your family member was killed in a car accident in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania legislative code will presumably apply. Or if your loved one died due to a surgical mistake committed in Delaware, the Delaware Wrongful Death Act will be the statute that determines whether the death was wrongful.
Generally, to be considered a wrongful death, a person must die due to the negligent, careless, or reckless conduct of another person or entity (such as in commercial litigation cases). Death could also be wrongful if it is the result of an incident where the law imposes strict liability. For example, in a case where a person is killed by a dog in a state where dog owners are strictly liable for the damages their dog causes, the person’s death could be wrongful by the operation of law.
Incidents that Result in Wrongful Death
There are a number of types of incidents or accidents that result in wrongful death cases. For example, despite modern advancements in automotive safety, automobile accidents result in thousands of deaths every year on our roadways. Some types of automobile accidents seem more likely to produce catastrophic injury and death claims. It is not infrequent for us to be consulted in automobile death cases involving tractor-trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, and car vs. bicycle or car vs. pedestrian collisions.
Another frequent cause of death in wrongful death cases is medical/surgical mistakes. These medical negligence wrongful death cases often involve failure to diagnose a condition that results in a patient’s death, completion of unnecessary surgery, the performance of surgery in a negligent manner, or an infection that was not properly treated and led to the patient’s death. Pharmacy errors are another form of medical malpractice that can lead to fatal accidents as well. Filling the wrong medication or the wrong dosage can have catastrophic effects — including death.
What Money Can Be Obtained in a Wrongful Death Case?
In a wrongful death case, the family of the deceased may be eligible to receive various forms of compensation. The types and amounts of compensation can vary depending on which state the incident occurred in, the type of accident that caused the wrongful death, and the available insurance coverage and assets of the responsible parties. In many states, a plaintiff in a wrongful death case may receive financial compensation in the form of a settlement or an award of damages at trial.
The settlement or award can be for the loss of expected pecuniary benefits, lost wages, loss of services, funeral expenses, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, medical expenses of the deceased person, loss of companionship, and other damages. Each state’s wrongful death law is different, and unfortunately, there can be significant differences between states. You should consult with an attorney who practices in the state where your loved one lost their life.
Are There Time Limits to File a Dover Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death cases are generally governed by a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a law that creates a time limit for filing your lawsuit case. Each state’s law is different. For example, if your family member dies in an accident in the Town of Marydel, Delaware, then Delaware’s two-year statute of limitations is likely to apply.
But if the accident happens fifteen feet to the west in Marydel, Maryland, then Maryland’s three-year statute may apply. There are also often nuances to these statutes that could lead to a longer timeframe, but this is a rare occurrence. You should consult with an attorney about your unique case for specific advice about the statute of limitations in your situation.
How Can You Choose the Best Wrongful Death Lawyer?
There are a few great attorneys, many adequate attorneys, and a handful of terrible attorneys in every state. As the surviving family member of someone killed in a wrongful death accident or incident, you have the unenviable task of selecting a wrongful death attorney. Choose wisely! Here are some thoughts from our Managing Partner, Ben Schwartz, on how to select a wrongful death attorney that’s right for your case:
Don’t delegate the task of finding a lawyer. In many states, there can be only one lawsuit for a wrongful death regardless of the number of claimants. As a result, all family members who are eligible to make a claim must come together to file one lawsuit. In many wrongful death cases I have handled, the entire family does not come in and meet with the lawyer at the initial consultation. Rather, one or two people are selected to select the lawyer who will represent everyone. I think this is a mistake. It would be better for all the family members participating in the lawsuit to come in and meet the attorney. This will satisfy everyone that the right choice is being made.
Treat the initial consultation like it’s a job interview. This means you should interview multiple candidates before you settle on one. Every wrongful death trial lawyer I know offers a free initial consultation in wrongful death cases. That means it costs the same amount of money whether you interview one lawyer, two lawyers, or three lawyers. If I had to pick a wrongful death lawyer to represent me or my family members, I would not just go with the first lawyer who can make time to see me. I would pick out three lawyers who limit their practices to handling death and serious injury claims, who have jury trial experience, and who have been in practice for more than ten years. I would interview each of them, and see who I’m most comfortable with. I believe this is the best way to obtain compensation and hold liable parties accountable.
What Questions Should you Ask Dover Wrongful Death Lawyers?
Whether you lost a loved one to medical malpractice, a violent assault, a car accident, or any other incident stemming from negligence, there are some important questions you should ask potential attorneys. During your “job interviews” with wrongful death lawyers, asking the following questions can help you make the best decision when choosing who will provide you with legal advice:
“Why do you think you’re qualified to handle this case?”
I like this question for two reasons. First, it is designed to identify the attorney’s actual qualifications to handle your wrongful death case. Second, it challenges the attorney’s authority. Many Dover wrongful death lawyers have massive egos. It’s hard to have a big head and be a successful trial lawyer — because judges and juries will keep your ego in check. If the lawyer gets upset when you ask this question, he or she is probably not as great of an attorney as they think.
“Who in your office besides you are going to be working on the case?”
When you hire someone to handle household services or mow your yard, it’s often not a big deal if they send employees rather than themselves. This is also true with law firms since no top-level trial lawyer works every facet of every case all alone. The major difference is that you want to ensure everyone working on your case is qualified to do so. The top-level trial lawyers have teams helping them – case managers, paralegals, secretaries, law students who serve as clerks, and other associate attorneys. Ask which of these professionals will handle your case.
If the lawyer you’re interviewing works alone, types his or her own letters and answers his or her own phone, keep moving. While this may sound like a “go-getter” attorney who could handle your case, the fact is that wrongful death claims are very complex. For instance, medical malpractice cases often require around-the-clock work from multiple professionals — even when an accident isn’t fatal. The simple fact is that no single person should try to take on an entire case of such magnitude.
Conversely, if the lawyer works with a team, ask if you can meet the other team members who will be working on your case. When you visit our offices to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Dover, DE, we’re more than happy to let you speak with everyone. We understand how difficult this time is, and we want you to know that we’re dedicated to helping your family through this tragic event.
“If I want to speak to other clients who you have represented in wrongful death cases, can you give me a reference?”
The answer to this question is probably going to be something along the lines of “I cannot do that because the client’s names and phone numbers are confidential.” Ask the question anyway — for two reasons. First, you can see how the lawyer answers the question. Second, if the lawyer tells you that the info is confidential, you can ask him or her to reach out to past wrongful death case clients and seek permission to connect you. Very few clients who have been through this ordeal are going to say no to the opportunity to help someone who has just lost a loved one. These people know what it’s like to go through the process and deal with the civil court, so they’ll typically want others to have their minds at ease.
“How many jury trials have you conducted? How many of those were in the last five years? And how many of those were as ‘lead counsel’”?
This is a great question or series of questions to ask a lawyer. The lawyer may have to take your case to trial to get you fair compensation. After all, insurance companies may not care about your mental anguish and other non-economic losses. It used to be that there were very few personal injury and wrongful death lawyers, but nowadays there seems to be an attorney on every street corner in some cities. Of course, they all advertise for these types of cases. Unfortunately, many of these lawyers are not well qualified to present a wrongful death case to a jury. As a result, the insurance company’s settlement offer will be low. Steer clear of attorneys who aren’t willing to litigate a wrongful death claim.
“Why do you handle injury and death cases? Would you rather do something else less stressful or more cheerful?”
The really great lawyers who handle personal injury and wrongful death cases do it for some reason other than the money. Maybe they had a parent or sibling who was injured or killed in an accident, and this is how they learned firsthand the importance of having someone who can competently prosecute their case. Or maybe they have a love for the art of trying cases, and they wake up every morning super excited to go to court and give a great opening statement to the jury.
There are a lot of reasons why great lawyers are great lawyers, but one thing is there in every great lawyer: a passion for the work. You want a law firm full of passionate people. Ask the lawyer why they’re doing what they’re doing, and then gauge their response. Are they passionate about it? Is holding a defendant liable just a job for them? Do they seem like they’re tired and want to go home? Pay attention to their answer.
Wrongful Deaths Lawyers in Dover, DE Can Help
When you lose a loved one, the situation is tragic in its own right. When this loss is caused by the negligence of a third party, though, everything seems a little more disheartening. It’s not just that a person died — a person you love — it’s that it should have never happened at all. In a death caused by reckless or negligent actions, it’s typically possible to recover damages. The first step in this process, though, is to seek a settlement or file a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury law firm can help with both.
At Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law, we’ve spent years providing dedicated legal representation to our clients. When you lose a loved one in an accident, it’s important to know who is liable for your loss and hold them accountable. We’re here to help you navigate these difficult times. Contact us today by calling 302-678-8700 to speak with a wrongful death lawyer in Dover, DE. Let us help seek justice for your loved one.