The loss of a loved one at the hands of a doctor in charge of their care is devastating, even more so when that death was preventable. Filing a wrongful death claim can hold the healthcare provider responsible for your loved one’s death accountable for their actions, but the process is complex. If you don’t have the right legal help, you could ruin your suit before it ever gets off the ground.
Do shut down your social media accounts
Anything you post on social media websites, including Facebook or Twitter, is discoverable in a wrongful death claim. Even if your accounts utilize the highest privacy settings possible, the courts have ruled time and again that by posting information on the Internet, you’re engaged in a public forum and really have no presumption of privacy. The defense may use images you post of your deceased family member in an effort to discredit their injuries. From the moment you file a wrongful death claim, deactivate your social media profiles and those of your deceased family member. Keep them dark until after your legal team brings your suit to resolution.
Do tell the truth
Lies and deception can cripple any personal injury claim, including one for wrongful death. Dishonesty affects how your lawyers deal with the insurance company representing the doctor, and how a jury may perceive you at trial. Over the course of the claim, you may be required to give testimony in depositions, or appear on the witness stand under oath. It’s important you remain honest so your legal team can develop an effective strategy to prove negligence in your loved one’s death, and to also help you avoid perjuring yourself.
Do hire attorneys experienced in medical malpractice claims
Proving a doctor’s reckless intent in causing the death of a patient is difficult. Hiring a law firm with a positive track record of winning wrongful death claims is important because of the message it sends to the insurance company and their legal defense team. It says you’re serious about holding the doctor accountable for their actions. The insurance company will usually negotiate differently with a firm of experienced attorneys than it does with a team that doesn’t have the same history of success. In short, if the insurance company knows the firm they’re up against has won suits similar to yours in the past. That makes them more likely to deal with you fairly.
Do expect open communication
This is quite possibly the most stressful time in your life, and you shouldn’t go through it in the dark with unanswered questions. Your attorney and legal team should provide regular updates on the status of your case and welcome any and all questions you might have about the process going forward. Don’t be shy in demanding straight answers.
Do ask about the plan
A law firm without a detailed plan to recover compensation on your family’s behalf is at the mercy of the insurance company. Ask questions about your attorney’s strategies to pursue those at fault for causing your loved one’s death. Listen for phases of evidence gathering, deposing those involved, and maintaining an aggressive stance in making settlement demands.
Do not forget quick claim settlement doesn’t usually happen
Accumulating all the necessary medical evidence and lining up experts to build an effective claim for damages takes time. You don’t want to rush the process and any attorney who claims they can settle a wrongful death claim fast doesn’t understand the complexities of the law or insurance company tactics. The insurer representing the doctor involved in the suit won’t settle quickly, and a trial is almost a forgone conclusion. The timetable to resolve your claim is measured in years, not months in the majority of cases.
Do not think that all mistakes amount to negligence
There are inherent risks involved with any medical treatment. Just because your loved one failed to respond to a doctor’s prescribed treatment, does not mean that medical professional breached their legal obligations to them as a patient. Don’t assume you have a valid claim before speaking with an attorney and learning about your rights to pursue money damages. Trust the professional opinion of your legal team as they investigate your family member’s death.
Do not be a detective
Once you’ve hired a law firm to handle your wrongful death claim, allow them to do the heavy lifting in terms of investigating the case and interviewing involved parties. Don’t try to interview the doctor involved with the case on your own, and avoid all contact with the insurance company handling the claim unless your legal team is present.
Do not obsess about the case
Hiring a law firm allows you to focus on what’s most important - health and recovery. A death in the family takes a heavy toll on you physically and mentally. Don’t allow the daily grind of the legal process to influence your health or how you choose to heal. Address those needs first. Your legal team will handle the rest.
Nothing can bring back a close family member, and you may experience their loss for the rest of your life. But the wrongful death suit you bring on their behalf can help reduce the chance that someone else experiences the same type of loss. To accomplish that goal, it’s important you maximize your claim’s chances for success by following our simple, but crucial steps.
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