When Do You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer

Have you lost a loved one in an accident? You could be entitled to a payout. Here’s what you need to know about hiring a wrongful death lawyer.

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250,000 people die from medical malpractice each year.

Similarly, thousands of employees die from operating faulty heavy machinery. More deaths are recorded on the roads.

Whatever the circumstances of wrongful death, or any death, the pain and suffering it causes those close to the deceased is untold.

Have you recently lost a loved one under avoidable circumstances? You could be entitled to a payout. Here is more on wrongful death as well as what you need to know about hiring a wrongful death lawyer.

What Is Wrongful Death?

A wrongful death is when one is killed because of the misconduct, negligence or intentional act of another person, institution or entity.

Wrongful death, also known as accidental death lawsuits, are filed by the family members left behind, to compensate them for their loss.

The premise is that since the family members depended on the deceased for emotional and or financial support, the death also causes damage to them.

Wrongful deaths result from medical malpractice, negligent or careless acts, murder, reckless driving, and so on.

Elements of Wrongful Death

There are four elements of wrongful death as defined by law.

The person filing a wrongful death lawsuit must be able to prove each of these elements for them to win a case and get compensated.


The surviving members and their legal representatives must prove their loved one died as a result of negligence or careless actions, in part or wholly, of the accused.

Breach of Duty

You must prove that the defendant owed a duty to the deceased. For example, a driver on the road, owes other motorists safe, sober driving. A doctor, on the other hand, has the duty to safeguard their patient’s wellness.

The plaintiff has to establish what duty was owed and that it was breached.


Aside from establishing duty, the plaintiff must establish how a breach of duty caused their loved one’s death.


The death of the loved one must have generated damages. These include hospitalization bills, burial expenses, loss of income, loss of protection, guidance, inheritance as well as pain and suffering to the victim prior to their death.

If you have recently lost a loved one and the above elements apply, then you can file a suit to get compensated.

Hiring an attorney might be intimidating especially if it is your first time. However, it is an essential part of litigation. Having the right attorney significantly improves your chances of winning your suit.

How do you ensure you have the best legal representation? Here is all you need to know about hiring a wrongful death lawyer.

How to Hire the Right Wrongful Death Lawyer

Hiring the right lawyer to handle your case is one way to ensure that the lawsuit proceeds seamlessly and that you get the compensation you deserve. Here are some tips to help you identify the right wrongful death lawyer.

1. Specialization and Level of Expertise

All attorneys are not equal. Some lawyers are generalist, while some are specialists.

Some handle specialist’s cases successfully while others have a poor track record in their specialization.

The first thing you want to find out is if an attorney handles wrongful death suits and what their success rate looks like. Similarly, seek to find out how many of their cases (similar to yours) they have settled in trial Vis a vie settled out of court.

Keep in mind that the party you are suing will do whatever it can to avoid making a settlement.

For this reason, you need a masterful lawyer at trial, during the investigative phase as well as during settlement talks.

2. Time Allotment

While picking a popular lawyer has its benefits, it also has its downside.

The main one is that they might not have sufficient time to dedicate to you and your case.

Identify and settle for a lawyer that’s not handling tens of high profile cases simultaneously.

You can also identify a law firm with several associates providing adequate support. This way, you are assured that your case will get sufficient time and resources.

3. What Is Their Reputation?

Look at a lawyer’s reputation and credibility. By asking about them in your circles, chances are that one or two people might know other people who may provide some insights into the lawyer and their law firm.

If you have a tax attorney or interact with other lawyers, ask them as well.
Look online for reviews as well.

While it’s not uncommon for great lawyers to have a few complaints here and there, the main sentiment about them should be positive.

4. A Good Communicator

Losing a loved one is undoubtedly one of the most challenging times you will encounter in your life.

With a poor communicator for an attorney, you are likely to find yourself constantly out of the loop.

From the initial steps of vetting attorneys, pay attention to their responsiveness and communication skills. This will help you pick out an attorney that will listen, explain processes to you, and address your concerns along the way.

5. Payment Plan

Although hiring a lawyer is not expensive, you need to choose the right payment plan.

There are essentially two payment plans. One is where you pay your attorney a retainer fee at agreed times during your case.

The other is by contingency, where you only pay your lawyer if you win your case. In the latter, your attorney takes a percentage of the damages awarded.

A contingency payment plan is highly favorable to you. The first reason for this is that you may not have the money to pay your attorney out of pocket, despite having a strong case.

The other reason is that it incentivizes your lawyer to work harder and win you the best settlement possible. Lastly, it ensures that an attorney does not take a losing case, only to benefit from the retainer.

It would be advantageous if you could find a qualified attorney to take up your case on contingency.

What Next?

Finding the right wrongful death lawyer will increase your chances of a positive outcome. However, the legal system is complex, and you might end up with an outcome you did not expect.

Counseling is one way to help you and your family come to terms with losing a loved one, as well as the aftermath of the lawsuit. Read more about family counseling on our blog.