Gillette Wrongful Death Attorneys
We May Be Able to Help After the Death of a Loved One
Words cannot describe the pain of losing a loved one because of someone else’s bad choices. While the media wants you to think that too many lawsuits are filed in America because of greed, in reality, civil claims exist to hold people responsible for their actions. When a person or company was negligent and a person died as a result, there is no greater cause for filing a lawsuit and seeing justice done.
If you lost a spouse, child, parent, or other family member, we understand that the last thing you want to think about is money. That’s why you need an experienced Gillette personal injury attorney to handle your case, so you and your family can grieve and find time to heal. Call Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., at (307) 317-0916; we are here to listen and take action to hold the people responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for what they have done.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
Legally, wrongful death refers to the death of a person caused by someone else's neglect or wrongful action. A driver who starts playing a game on his smartphone and does not notice a pedestrian in the crosswalk would be considered negligent. If he hits the pedestrian, who then dies, it would be a wrongful death. An act of violence that results in death, such as a shooting or stabbing, is also grounds for a wrongful death suit, but these cases are less common.
There are a several types of cases that can qualify under state and federal wrongful death statutes. If your loved one was taken from you under any of these circumstances, you may have a valid wrongful death claim:
- DUI accident
- Slip and fall accident
- Product liability
- Nursing home neglect and abuse
- Traffic accident
- Commercial trucking accident
- Negligent security
- Wrongful death in a Wyoming jail or prison
- Wrongful death in a Wyoming treatment or rehabilitation facility
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Wyoming, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed by a representative for the estate of the person who died. This is usually a family member, such as a surviving spouse, parent, or child, but it can be a legal representative established by a will or other document. Family members of the deceased who cannot directly file a wrongful death lawsuit may still be able to participate in the claim and seek additional damages. For example, if a man was killed in a coal mining accident and his adult son is the legal representative for the man’s estate, the son can file a wrongful death lawsuit, but other children who are not representatives can also join in to seek damages for themselves.
What Kinds of Damages Can Be Recovered?
There are two types of damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death case, compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the victim’s survivors for damages, injuries, and other losses that have occurred as a result of the wrongful death.
Determining exactly what type of compensatory damages should be sought in a wrongful death case is complicated. To make sure you are asking for an appropriate amount with good cause, you should work with an experienced Campbell County wrongful death lawyer. Otherwise, you may miss out on damages that you are rightfully owed, or make errors that can result in your case being thrown out.
Compensatory wrongful death damages include:
- Compensation for medical expenses associated with the cause of death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost wages and income that would have been earned if the deceased had lived
- Pain and suffering the deceased experienced during death
- Pain and suffering that family members experienced due to the death
- Loss of companionship, society, and comfort due to the death
- Costs for damaged property, if any property was damaged in the fatal accident
In some cases, Punitive damages may be awarded in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for extremely reckless or malicious behavior. In these cases, the court determines that the plaintiff acted with gross negligence by disregarding the rights and safety of others. Punitive damages send a strong message that the people of Wyoming deserve to be treated with care, and they are designed to discourage others from engaging in careless behavior that could harm others.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit
It’s crucial to find an experienced wrongful death attorney to represent the victim’s survivors. A wrongful death suit must be filed in a civil court. The state may also be working to hold the defendant accountable for your loved one’s death in a criminal case, and that’s a good thing. In fact, evidence that emerges from a criminal case can help strengthen the family’s civil action.
A major difference between criminal and civil proceedings is that the burden of proof is much lower in a civil wrongful death suit. To convict someone in a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a wrongful death suit, the plaintiff must only prove that there is a preponderance of evidence that demonstrates the defendant is responsible for causing your loved one’s death.
Although the standards for determining guilt are lower in a civil case, the burden of proof still rests with the plaintiff. That means your lawyer will have to put together a very convincing case to be successful in a wrongful death suit. Because Wyoming is a comparative fault state, your lawyer will have to prove that the defendant was at least 50 percent responsible for your loved one’s death to win a settlement.
The Sooner You File a Wrongful Death Claim, the Better
In the state of Wyoming, you only have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. It is best to not wait, however, since evidence, witnesses’ memories, and other items can be lost over time. You should also know that wrongful death claims are separate from any criminal charges that might be filed against the guilty party, so you must file a wrongful death claim in addition to any action a state prosecutor might take.
The Support You Need
Call our team at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., at (307) 317-0916 to talk about your case and hear your legal options. We are available to our clients 24/7, so you will always have someone from our office here to support you. There is no charge to talk to us.
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