Accidents happen every day in Nebraska, but not every incident is catastrophic. When a family deals with the untimely death of a loved one, overwhelming grief can quickly take over. When a person’s negligent or malicious actions cause a deadly accident, the family has the right to take legal action and seek compensation for the associated losses. Our Omaha wrongful death lawyers understand that no amount of money can make up for the loss of a loved one. We believe, however, that financial compensation can help a family move forward without worrying about the future.
If you’ve unexpectedly lost a loved one, we’re here to help you every step of the way if you decide to take action against the negligent party. Wrongful death litigation is complex. Having an experienced legal team by your side may be the only way to achieve a successful outcome for your family. We want you to be able to honor your loved one’s life without worrying about the financial burdens associated with their passing.
To file a successful claim, understanding some basic information about wrongful deaths can help. Let’s start by going over the most common accidents that result in unexpected losses of life.
How Do Wrongful Deaths Occur?
Wrongful deaths are the result of negligent behavior. Causes tend to vary, but common patterns and categories are identifiable. Many unexpected deaths are the result of auto accidents, medical malpractice, hazardous or defective products, and work-related incidents.
There are thousands of car accidents in Nebraska every year. While many only result in property damage or injuries, there are quite a few that result in fatalities. In 2017, there were 210 fatal crashes. Many resulted from distracted or impaired driving. Victims of motorcycle accidents are more likely to have fatal injuries because of the lack of protection a motorcycle provides.
Physicians and other health care professionals need to provide patients with the best care possible to treat their medical issues and help them recover. Unfortunately, there are negligent doctors who make devastating medical errors. Depending on the circumstances, negligence can cause fatalities that occur in the operating room or during labor and delivery.
Just like doctors are supposed to take steps to ensure the wellbeing of their patients, manufacturers should design and produce their products in a manner that will not bring harm to consumers. Dangerous products, like faulty household appliances or defective vehicles, have the potential to cause fatal injuries even if the consumer is using the product correctly.
It’s no secret that some industries are more dangerous than others. Individuals who work construction or health care, for example, face unique risks that employees in other fields do not. There are, however, supposed to be systems in place to reduce the number of accidents. When those systems are not abided by, workers are likely to get seriously hurt or lose their lives.
You may still have a valid claim, even if your loved one’s fatal accident wasn’t discussed above. Our Omaha attorneys can examine your claim and help you figure out the next steps.
Understanding Wrongful Death Laws in Nebraska
Every state has its own laws when it comes to wrongful death claims. Nebraska is no different. Your injury lawyer will be able to explain how the laws apply to your case. To give you a general idea, we’ll go over how Nebraska defines wrongful death, who files a claim, and what the time constraints look like for taking legal action.
The definition of wrongful death is under the Nebraska Revised Statutes section 30-809. According to this section, when a person dies because of a wrongful act, neglect, or default of someone else, a company, or a corporation, legal action can be taken. This is because the decedent would have been able to maintain an action and recover damages if they had survived. So another way to think about a wrongful death claim is like a personal injury claim that the victim cannot file for themselves.
The law includes unborn children in utero at any stage of gestation. However, damages cannot be sought from the mother of the unborn child, the physician—if the death was the intended result of a medical procedure, or someone who administers a drug in accordance with the law that was intended to cause death.
When a family wants to take action against a negligent party for the death of their loved one, the question as to who can file often arises. Even though the benefits of the claim are for the surviving family members, the legal representative of the deceased person’s estate is responsible for filing the claim. Determining the identity of the legal representative is easy if the deceased’s will names them. If there is no official representative, a family member can file a petition with the court. Your lawyer can help you with this process and make sure the right person is in control of the estate.
Once you have a legal representative, they can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party. This type of claim is a civil lawsuit, liability will only be expressed in monetary compensation. If there’s a possibility the death resulted from malicious or intentional actions, you can file a criminal case at the same time. Your attorney can help you understand how the two cases will interact with each other.
There are certain time restrictions in place that limit how long a person has to take legal action against another party. They are statutes of limitations. In Nebraska, you must file claims within two years of the decedent’s death date. There are, however, a number of factors that could affect that limit. An Omaha wrongful death lawyer can explain just how long you have, so you don’t lose out on much-needed compensation for your family.
Why You’ll Benefit from Hiring a Lawyer for Your Wrongful Death Claim
You and your family may be thinking about filing the claim for your loved one on your own, instead of seeking legal guidance. This, however, is rarely a wise decision, as this is a complicated area of law. One of the most important things a personal injury lawyer can bring to a claim is experience. With a background in law and experience helping other clients seek justice for their loved ones, your wrongful death attorney can offer expertise you will not find anywhere else.
With the right legal team, you’re also likely to save a significant amount of time. It could take you weeks or months to figure out how to proceed with legal matters on your own. Your lawyer will already understand the process from beginning to end. They’ll be able to answer your questions and make sure you are comfortable with the decisions you’re making. And, as discussed above, it’s crucial to meet deadlines like the statute of limitations. Your lawyer will be able to evaluate your unique situation and make sure everything is on time.
Also, as this is likely to be an incredibly difficult time in your life, you may not be able to make rational decisions. Grief is a powerful emotion and it’s likely that anger is present because of the nature of your loss. Your lawyers will focus on the law and help you think clearly, so your case has the best possible chance for success.
What Damages Can a Family Recover for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Omaha?
As mentioned, liability for wrongful death claims in Nebraska is expressed in terms of financial compensation that is to help the family members move forward from their loss without financial burdens. There are a number of expenses associated with a wrongful death that people may not consider. Some include medical expenses of the deceased, property damage, and funeral and burial expenses. Families will also lose their loved one’s monetary contributions and benefits from their job.
When a family is eligible for compensation, there are two types of damages. There are those that are measurable and those that are not. Measurable damages, also referred to as economic damages, including medical bills and funeral costs, loss of benefits, what the decedent would have received in pension or retirement benefits if they had lived, and loss of future earnings. Noneconomic damages can be difficult to calculate and often include loss of companionship, which refers to the loss of emotional support, the mental pain and suffering resulting from the loss, and punitive damages. Punitive damages serve to punish the negligent party for their actions.
Calculating damages is a complex process. There are often multiple factors to consider, including: how dependent the family was on the deceased, the nature of the relationship, the deceased’s life expectancy, the anticipated earnings, and the presence of comparative fault. Your Omaha wrongful death lawyer will be able to help you calculate those losses and determine how much compensation you are owed.
Finding a Dedicated Wrongful Death Lawyer
When choosing a law firm to work with, you’ll want to find a team of professionals who are willing to work for you. At Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO our reputation speaks for itself. We have helped countless victims recover from the negligent actions of other parties or entities. We strive to ensure families receive justice for their lost loved ones. Reckless individuals need to realize they cannot harm others without facing the consequences. If you’re prepared to take action on your loved one’s behalf, we’re here to offer a free initial case evaluation to provide you with ways to move forward.