Wrongful death is a devastating tragedy in which someone loses his or her life as a result of negligence. If your family has recently lost someone in an accident you believe could have been prevented, such as an auto accident or workplace disaster, contact the Lincoln wrongful death lawyers at Knowles Law Firm for a free legal consultation. We will discuss your case in detail over the phone or in person.
Why Choose Us
- Our wrongful death lawyers truly care about the individuals and families they represent. We work diligently, often seven days a week, to achieve top case results.
- We prepare each case as if it will go to trial. This increases the chances of achieving a successful settlement and permits us to go to court, when necessary.
- We operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay your Lincoln personal injury attorney unless he or she succeeds in winning your family’s lawsuit.
What Is Wrongful Death?
It can be difficult to recognize whether or not your family has grounds to file a wrongful death claim in Nebraska. The legal definition of wrongful death, according to Nebraska Revised Statute section 30-809, is a fatal injury caused by the neglect, default or wrongful act of another person or entity. Vehicle accidents, defective products, and slip and fall accidents may all be considered wrongful deaths depending on the circumstances.
There are three main situations in which a wrongful death claim can arise in Nebraska:
- If someone is negligent, he or she has been careless and violated his or her legal obligation to exercise reasonable care, resulting in harm to others. The party has done something a prudent party would not do in similar circumstances.
- Intentional wrongdoing. An intentional wrongdoing is a deliberate action with the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death to a victim, such as homicide or manslaughter. A defendant can be held both civilly and criminally liable for intentional wrongdoing.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a specific type of negligence that takes place in the medical field. It describes a health care provider fatally wounding a patient through an unacceptable level of medical care.
State law says that if death had not ensued to the deceased person, and this party would have been able to file a personal injury claim to recover monetary damages, then the same defendant can be held liable for wrongful death.
How Can a Lincoln Wrongful Death Lawyer Help?
If you believe someone else caused or greatly contributed to your loved one’s death, speak to a lawyer about a possible lawsuit. A lawyer in Lincoln can review the facts of the case to let you know if you have a lawsuit. Then, your lawyer can investigate the fatal injury and represent your family during negotiations with an insurance company.
Most wrongful death claims settle. If your case needs to go to court, however, your lawyer can represent you in front of a judge and jury. A lawyer will fight for the justice and recovery your family deserves. Most importantly, hiring a lawyer can give your family the peace of mind it needs during the legal process to focus on mourning, grieving and healing.
Causes of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
In Lincoln, Nebraska, many types of accidents can lead to the death of an individual and a related wrongful death claim. Every year, thousands of accident victims get sent to hospitals with injuries that result in their deaths. A specific type of accident does not have to have killed your loved one to make your family eligible for a wrongful death claim; instead, your ability to file is based on the actions or omissions of the defendant.
Negligent and wrongful acts can result in many deadly accidents in Lincoln, including:
- Motor vehicle accidents: collisions involving passenger cars, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians can prove fatal for victims. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in Nebraska.
- Truck accidents: large and heavy commercial trucks are deadlier than smaller cars in traffic accidents. Truck driver and trucking company negligence, such as improper truck operation or fleet maintenance, are often responsible for these fatal collisions.
- Workplace accidents: a worker could suffer a fatal injury while performing job-related tasks, especially in a dangerous industry such as construction. Examples of deadly accidents at work are catastrophic falls, contacts with equipment, electrocutions and struck-by falling objects.
- Premises liability accidents: a dangerous premises could cause a severe enough injury to a visitor that he or she passes away. Examples include violent dog attacks, serious fall accidents, swimming pool accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Defective products: a product that contains a design, marketing or manufacturing flaw could prove unreasonably dangerous for a user and result in fatal injuries. Examples include exploding appliances, faulty auto parts, and defective drugs or medical devices.
- Medical malpractice: the failure of a medical professional to adhere to the required standards of care can result in patient death. These tragedies can lead to claims being brought against the doctor or hospital in Lincoln for torts such as medication errors, surgical mistakes, anesthesia errors or misdiagnosis.
- Acts of violence: some wrongful death cases involve intentional acts of violence, such as physical assault, battery, abuse, domestic violence, vehicular manslaughter, homicide or murder. A criminal conviction is not necessary to hold a perpetrator liable for wrongful death after an intentional act of wrongdoing in Nebraska.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly lost a loved one under circumstances that you believe could have been avoided with a reasonable level of care exerted by someone else, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a wrongful death claim. Our attorneys at Knowles Law Firm can listen to your story and review your case for free to determine if it has merit. Then, we can help you navigate Nebraska’s complex wrongful death legal process.
Potential Compensation for Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Our wrongful death lawyers understand that clients do not come to us solely for financial gain after the tragic loss of a loved one’s life. They are looking for answers, justice and closure. They want to hold one or more parties accountable for the fatal accident that killed their loved one. We help our clients do just this by providing tailored legal services. Part of achieving justice for a deceased accident victim, however, is surviving family members and/or the estate securing fair and full financial compensation for their losses.
A successful wrongful death claim in Lincoln could result in payment from a defendant for the following types of damages:
- Economic: the specific monetary losses caused by the death, such as funeral and burial expenses, final medical costs, loss of the decedent’s earnings, and lost inheritance. In some cases, a judge may also award compensation for attorney’s fees and court costs. These losses must be proven using receipts, bills, invoices and employment documents.
- Noneconomic: the nonmonetary losses associated with the devastating loss of a loved one’s life. This can include mental anguish, grief, loss of consortium and loss of the loved one’s companionship and society. Noneconomic damages can also include the decedent’s pain and suffering prior to death.
- Punitive: in rare cases, a judge may also award punitive damages for wrongful death. Unlike the compensatory damages listed above, punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant rather than reimburse the plaintiff. They may be awarded by a judge in cases involving gross negligence or intent to harm, such as violent or malicious crimes committed against a victim.
How a settlement or judgment award is distributed after a successful wrongful death claim will depend on the circumstances. Different types of compensation may go to either surviving family members and dependents or the deceased individual’s estate. The estate may use the award to pay off any outstanding debts left behind by the decedent. From there, any remaining amount may go to eligible beneficiaries or survivors. To find out if you are an eligible recipient, contact our attorneys.
How Much Is Your Claim Worth?
Every wrongful death case is unique. Case values depend on factors that are specific to the situation, such as the decedent’s age at the time of death, life expectancy, how many dependents he or she left behind, and the insurance coverage available from the defendant(s). For this reason, it is impossible to estimate case value based on a settlement “average.” Projecting potential case values requires assistance from experts, such as forensic accountants and medical experts.
To find out how much financial compensation to reasonably expect for a loved one’s preventable passing, consult with our attorneys. A one-on-one consultation with an experienced lawyer is the only way to receive an accurate evaluation of how much your case could be worth. While an insurance company will want to diminish your family’s wrongful death payout, a lawyer’s goal will be to maximize its outcome. Before accepting an insurer’s settlement offer, contact our wrongful death lawyers to confirm that the amount being offered is fair and reasonable for such a significant loss.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Nebraska?
Although many states permit surviving family members to file an Omaha wrongful death claim, Nebraska does not. Under state law, the legal representative of the deceased person’s estate must be the party to file a wrongful death claim. If the decedent had the chance to prepare a Last Will and Testament prior to passing, this document will name a legal representative. Due to the unexpected nature of wrongful death, however, many decedents do not leave behind wills. In these cases, the courts will appoint a representative or administrator of the estate to file a claim.
The legal representative will file on behalf of the deceased person’s surviving family members. This often includes a surviving spouse, child(ren) or the parents of a deceased minor. Any individual who can prove financial dependence on the decedent at the time of death may qualify for financial compensation. If the claim succeeds, surviving family members can receive financial compensation for losses such as funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, lost earnings, loss of consortium, and mental anguish.
Types of Evidence Relevant to Your Case
Wrongful death claims must be proven by the filing party or plaintiff under the rules of the civil justice system. The burden of proof to establish a wrongful death claim is a “preponderance of the evidence,” also known as the “more likely than not” evidentiary standard. When you file this type of claim, your attorney must establish that the defendant is more likely than not to be responsible for your loved one’s fatal injury or illness, and that you suffered damages as a result.
A wrongful death lawyer in Lincoln can help you preserve and collect evidence to support your claim, such as:
- Medical records
- A coroner’s report
- A police report
- An accident report
- Surveillance footage
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Eyewitness statements
- Cell phone records
- Expert witness testimony
- Proof of losses
Typically, the elements of proof required are that the defendant owed your loved one a duty of care, breached this duty by behaving negligently or recklessly, and that this breach of duty caused your loved one’s death. These are the elements of the legal doctrine of negligence. Other elements may be necessary if you base your claim on another doctrine, such as breach of warranty or intent to harm. An attorney can investigate your case to search for evidence that proves the elements required for your claim.
What Is the Statute of Limitations on Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Nebraska?
Before you file a wrongful death claim in Nebraska, it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the laws that apply to your case. One of the most critical laws to know is the statute of limitations. According to this law, families have two years from the date of death to file wrongful death claims in Nebraska. This is a strict legal deadline on the ability to bring this type of cause of action under Nebraska Revised Statute Section 30-810.
Every state has unique statutes of limitations, but they generally range from one to four years. In Nebraska, if you fail to submit your claim within two years of your loved one’s date of death, the courts will most likely bar your family and the estate from pursuing a financial recovery – even if you have evidence of the defendant’s negligence. This is why it is imperative to contact an attorney as soon as possible after losing a loved one in Lincoln.
Contact a Lincoln, NE Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
It is difficult to cope with the loss of a loved one in any circumstances. If someone else’s negligence or intent to harm took a loved one’s life, it can be even more difficult to come to terms with the loss. A wrongful death lawsuit can give your loved one a voice in the civil justice system and hold a wrongdoer accountable.
Discuss a wrongful death claim in more detail with an attorney at Knowles Law Firm today. Call (402) 431-9000 or submit our online contact form 24/7.