If your family member passed away as a result of the negligence of another party, you may have a case for wrongful death. Not every wrongful death case is tried in court, as many attorneys will do their best to settle outside of court to begin with. If the defendant does not pay damages in an out-of-court settlement, you may be headed to court. What can you expect?
The first thing you will do is file a complaint against the defendant. This will give a detailed explanation of why you’re filing the lawsuit, as well as what you expect to gain in damages. The defendant will have to reply in a certain amount of time, at which point he or she can seek to have the case thrown out all together.
In something called “discovery,” both parties are allowed a chance to obtain information from each other in regards to the case. Your attorney will generally ask for documents, items, interviews, answers to written questions and more. With the information collected, your attorney will have what is needed to proceed with the case.
Before going to trial, attorneys can face the court in pre-trial motions. During these meetings, they may dispute evidence, argue about entitlement, bring up concerns about the complaint and more. This is often a last attempt by one party at getting the case thrown out. It could also be an attempt to discard evidence that would benefit of the other party.
Some states require the two parties in a wrongful death lawsuit sit down before going to court, in a last ditch effort to try and settle the case. For some cases, the effort is effective, yet in others it is not.
If you are the party that brought the lawsuit, you and your lawyer will decide whether to move ahead with a judge or jury. An in-court trial will consist of witnesses, cross-examinations, legal arguments, evidentiary arguments and finally a verdict. If you win your case, the judge or jury will determine damages. If you lose your case, you walk away with nothing.
If you or the defendant feel that there was a significant error during the trial that may have led to the opposite outcome, an appeal can be filed. If it is accepted, the court process would begin again with a new court.
Contacting Your Lawyer
If you or a loved one plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit, contact an attorney today for assistance. The court process is long, and there may be a way you can settle outside of court. Either way, it’s nice to have someone on your side.