If you have suffered the tragic loss of a loved one, your family may be entitled to financial compensation through a wrongful death claim. The legal process required to file this type of lawsuit in Nebraska can be complicated and may require assistance from an experienced wrongful death attorney in Omaha. Although each case is unique, below are the basic steps involved in the filing process.
Determine if You Have a Case
According to Nebraska Revised Statute, Section 30-809, a legal action can be brought for the death of a person (including an unborn child in utero) if it was caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of any person, company or corporation. The law goes on to say that if the victim would have been entitled to maintain an action and recover damages had his or her injuries not been fatal, a wrongful death claim can typically be filed.
The first step is determining whether you have grounds to file a wrongful death case in Nebraska. The best way to do this is by contacting a law firm to request a free case evaluation from an attorney. You will tell the story of what happened to your loved one and a knowledgeable attorney will let you know if your case has merit. If so, the law firm can conduct an in-depth investigation to get to the bottom of who or what caused the fatal injury or illness.
Identify the Personal Representative
A wrongful death case uses an entirely different legal process than a criminal case against the defendant for murder, manslaughter or homicide. A prosecutor files a criminal case, while filing a wrongful death claim is the responsibility of the deceased individual’s (decedent’s) personal representative. This representative is also referred to as the executor or administrator of the estate. The decedent might have named a personal representative in his or her will. If not, the courts will appoint one, and this person will be responsible for filing the wrongful death claim.
File the Required Paperwork
The personal representative will need to obtain and fill out the required paperwork to initiate a claim. Your wrongful death lawsuit may start with a simple demand letter submitted to an insurance company. A demand letter asks for a specific sum of money to resolve the legal dispute. This may be enough to reach a satisfactory settlement with an insurance company. If not, the personal representative will file a lawsuit with the civil courthouse in the county where the decedent lived (and pay the filing fee).
Meet Nebraska’s Filing Deadline
In Nebraska, a wrongful death claim must be filed with the courts no later than two years after the date of the deceased individual’s death. This is the statute of limitations, and it is a strict law with only a few exceptions. For the most part, if a wrongful death lawsuit is filed after two years have passed from the date of the victim’s death, the courts will bar the personal representative from pursuing financial compensation.
Negotiate a Settlement or Go to Trial
Most wrongful death cases in Nebraska reach settlements, or agreements made between the defendant’s insurance company and the personal representative of the estate. It is important, however, not to rush to accept a fast settlement. Insurance companies are known for trying to take advantage of claimants. Make sure a settlement fully reimburses your family for all of its losses – including funeral and burial costs, medical bills, lost earnings, and pain and suffering – before signing anything.
An Nebraska wrongful death attorney can help you negotiate a fair and full settlement with an insurance provider. If the insurance company refuses to treat you fairly, however, your lawyer can take your case to court in Omaha to demand justice and maximum financial compensation.