If your loved one has died due to someone else’s negligence, you might be wondering about the process of finding a wrongful death attorney and filing a case. Though receiving compensation for medical bills, funeral costs, and emotional distress will not erase the pain you have felt, recuperating these expenses can help you recover financially and find closure as the party responsible for your loved one’s death is brought to justice.
While the period after a loved one’s death can be an emotionally tumultuous time, finding the right lawyer will ensure that you have someone to advocate for you and take on the insurance companies to pursue a fair settlement from the negligent parties. When you are seeking out legal representation for a wrongful death case, here is how to start the process:
1. Find a Lawyer With the Right Experience
Lawyers can specialize in different areas, so finding an attorney that has proven success with wrongful death cases is the first step. A lawyer’s website is a good place to start—that is where you can learn about the specialties they focus on and the credentials they have. Make sure they have plenty of information about their areas of focus and past experiences so you can get a better understanding of who they are.
2. Check That the Attorney Has Handled Similar Cases
Every wrongful death case will be different, but when seeking an attorney to handle yours, you want to ensure you are picking someone with a background that is compatible with your specific case. For example, if your loved one suffered a wrongful death in a medical malpractice situation, seeking out a lawyer that has experience taking on medical insurance companies might provide you with the edge you need to receive appropriate compensation. A lawyer that has handled cases similar to yours will be equipped with a sense of familiarity and expertise that would not be possible for an attorney taking on a case with an unfamiliar subject matter.
3. Make Sure They Have a Proven History of Success
Having peace of mind that your wrongful death case is in good hands is important, and choosing an attorney with a proven history of success can help you achieve that. Do some research regarding past cases they have won, settlement amounts their clients have been awarded, and any high-profile trials they have been involved with.
One of the best indicators of an attorney’s history of client satisfaction will be their online reviews, so take a close look at their Yelp and Google ratings. These reviews will give you insight into how satisfied past clients have been and can also alert you to any potential red flags others have experienced.
4. Understand How Their Team Structures Wrongful Death Cases
While the attorney you choose to work with will be the leader of your case, there are many other people at the law firm who might take part in it. Attorneys often delegate paperwork and general research to paralegals, while other associates might take on some of the investigative tasks or evidence organization. Being aware of the size of the firm and the way the team is structured will help you know who will be working on your case and ensure it will receive ample attention from every team member involved.
5. Set up a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Wrongful Death Case
The free consultation you set up with your potential attorney is one of the most helpful things you can do to find the right match. There should never be a charge for the first meeting between lawyer and client, so if an attorney you are considering charges for a consultation, it might be best to look elsewhere.
The free consultation serves a few functions—this is the opportunity for the lawyer to learn more about your case, but it is also your chance to ask questions and get as many details as possible to make sure that you feel comfortable trusting them with your wrongful death claim. Some key things to ask in this first meeting include:
- What do you do to ensure you are staying up to date with California laws regarding wrongful death cases?
- How frequently can I expect to hear from you regarding my case?
- What do you think a fair settlement amount would be?
- Have you ever seen a case similar to mine? If so, what was the outcome?
- How much of the work on my case will be done by you, and how much will be done by associates?
- How is the payment structure set up for cases like this?
- What length of time do you think my case will take to be resolved?
- Can I expect to communicate with you primarily via phone, email, or in-person?
- How many of your wrongful death cases are settled out of court and how many go to trial?
- Is there any way I can strengthen my case, and do you find any weaknesses with it?
After the initial consultation, check-in with yourself to make sure you felt like the attorney gained a clear understanding of your case, answered all of your questions, and left you feeling more informed about the issue at hand than when you began. Remember that an attorney is working for you, so if you do not feel this way following a consultation, you might need to continue looking to find the right match.
Overall, finding the right wrongful death lawyer can be tricky, but having a well-qualified person to advocate on behalf of you and your loved one can make the entire experience a much more positive one. If you would like to talk to someone about a wrongful death case today, contact us to schedule a free consultation.