A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the family of someone who dies when there is evidence that a person or company caused fatal injuries. Several family members may be able to get money from a lawsuit settlement. The judge assigned to the case decides how the settlement money is dispersed among the family members.
A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Compensates the Family
These claims are statutory, meaning they are governed by specific laws that give the families the right to sue. These laws were enacted to ensure that families who wrongfully lose loved ones can be compensated and thereby hold wrongdoers accountable. Our lawyers have helped many, many families do this.
In most states, the person who brings a lawsuit is called a “trustee.” He or she is appointed by a judge to bring the claim on behalf of the spouse and blood relatives of the person who died.
Anyone in your family can contact our law firm to talk to a wrongful death attorney about your family’s claim. Family members who may be part of a lawsuit generally include the spouse, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews.
How Long Does Our Family Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
This depends on the state where the suit is filed and the facts of your case. It is generally between 6 months and 3 years, but if there was intent to kill (murder in the criminal context), there may be no limit. Each state’s law provides for a “statute of limitations” for different kinds of cases. A lawyer needs to be consulted, and your lawyer needs to consider this when deciding in what state to file a lawsuit. In some cases, the suit could be filed in 2 or more states, and it is up to the attorney to decide which state is best for his or her client.
Can Our Family Just Get a Settlement and Not File a Lawsuit?
Yes, and Fred has had cases where that has happened. In one, a hotel was clearly at fault. The hotel did not want bad press and quickly settled for several million dollars. However, when a company is not willing to settle, the only way to get compensation is to file a lawsuit.
At our law firm, we generally start settlement negotiations with a “demand letter” stating what the case is about and how much money the family should get for the loss of their loved one. If the company is unwilling to settle, we continue working to get a settlement, even after we file a lawsuit. Sometimes cases are settled right before or during a trial.
At every step, we consult with our clients. This is what one client had to say about our law firm:
“They let us decide on the settlement. It gave our family relief and there was enough money that we could put it away for our remaining children to help them succeed in life in the future.’’
I have been practicing law for over 30 years, and I have had the priviledge of representing numerous families in wrongful death lawsuits.
Early in my career, I was retained to represent a woman who had lost her husband of over 35 years. I went to her house to learn about her late husband and how much he meant to her. When I got there, she gave me a tour of the home she and her husband had shared for many years. I noticed a pair of boots beside the bed and asked her about them.
My client told me that her husband always took his boots off at the end of the day and put them beside the bed. After he died, she put her husband’s boots right where he had put them each night, and she wasn’t sure when she would be able to move them.
That case gave me a passion for representing families. The goal is to recover the most money possible for families; the motivation is justice and making sure these families do not needlessly suffer financially.
Attorney Fred Pritzker is listed in the current edition of the “Best Lawyers in America.” He has spoken at Harvard Law School, Cornell University and other venues, and he regularly speaks at legal seminars, teaching other lawyers what he has learned in his many years of practice. He has won many multi-million-dollar settlements for families.
Fred and his team of wrongful death lawyers. can help you get compensation and justice. You will not have to provide any money up-front, and we are not paid unless your family wins.
What about a Class Action?
A class action lawsuit is generally not applicable, but you will need to consult with a lawyer. We strongly recommend that you get another opinion if a lawyer tells you that your case should be part of a class action lawsuit.
Proving Your Wrongful Death Case
Every wrongful death lawsuit has “elements” that must be proved for the family to win the case. The elements required depend on the type of case, but usually include: 1) the breach of a duty on the part of the person sued (examples — a landlord has the duty to keep the rental property safe and secure, a manufacturer has the duty to provide safe products, and a driver has the duty to obey the traffic laws and drive safely); 2) this breach caused the fatal incident and 3) the family suffered harm (loss of income, loss of the care and comfort of the deceased, and other “damages”).
These cases can involve accidents, food poisoning, explosions, defective products, malpractice, assault, failure to keep property safe, negligent maintenance of a swimming pool or other property, and work-related injuries. Our Minnesota wrongful death lawyers have handled wrongful death cases involving all of these, and all of our lawyers have obtained multi-million dollar recoveries.