The grief and sadness that accompany the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. When that death is sudden, unexpected, and comes as the result of another person or entity’s negligence, the emotional toll on family members is even more intense. Families may have many questions. They may want to pursue justice for their loved one and protect those who relied on the deceased. They may not even fully understand their rights as surviving family members.
The experienced wrongful death lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group understand what a confusing and difficult time this can be, and we are dedicated to protecting the rights of surviving family members. With over 150 years of combined experience, our personal injury lawyers have the knowledge, skills and drive to help secure justice for your loved one and obtain the vital compensation your family deserves.
If your loved one has died because of another person’s negligence in Delaware, you may be entitled to make a claim. Chat live with a member of our legal team today to find the answers you need and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Delaware, a wrongful death occurs when a wrongful act by one person causes the death of another person, for which that person could pursue a personal injury case had his death not occurred. Essentially, it is a personal injury case brought by the surviving family members of the deceased.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil matter instigated by private parties. In Delaware, it is permissible to file a wrongful death suit in addition to criminal charges filed by the state against the person responsible. However, criminal charges need not be pursued to mount a successful wrongful death case.
Determining Liability in Delaware
In wrongful death cases, it must be demonstrated that the defendant is liable for the accident or circumstance that led to the death. Commonly, it must be shown that the responsible party was negligent in some way and that negligence eventually led to the death. Though it can be tricky to determine liability in some cases, a skilled attorney can help find and preserve evidence, talk to expert witnesses, and more.
Some of the more common wrongful death cases arise from:
- Car Accidents. All drivers have a duty to be responsible and safe on the road. When drivers get behind the wheel after drinking, taking drugs, or missing sleep, they are putting everyone at risk and can be held accountable. Similarly, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents can all be cause for a wrongful death case.
- Premises Liability. When a property owner fails to maintain a safe environment for others, he or she can be held responsible. Some common premises liability issues include slip and fall accidents, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, and amusement park or playground accidents.
- Intentional killing. When one person intentionally causes the death of another, the surviving family can pursue civil charges.
- Work injuries. Typically, deaths related to the workplace are addressed through the workers’ compensation system. In some cases, however, the law does permit a claim to be pursued against a third party other than the employer who may be responsible for the death.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Delaware?
In Delaware, the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to benefit the spouse, children, parents, or siblings of the deceased person. The law is flexible when it comes to defining the ties between loved ones, and it is inclusive of many types of family relationships, but not all relationships recognize a legal right in every death. Parents do not have to be married. Any child born of the deceased would also be entitled to make a claim, regardless of whether the deceased was married to the other parent or not. In some unique instances, the courts will allow someone other than these people to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Additionally, the law does limit the time in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. In Delaware, family members have two years from the date of the death to file a lawsuit. The courts strictly adhere to the statute of limitations, so it is important for surviving family members to get started on a claim early.
Additionally, if your loved one died out of the State of Delaware, surviving family members may still be entitled to make a claim. The specifics of the situation would dictate which state would be the most appropriate in which to file the lawsuit.
If you are unsure if you have a right to make a claim, or if there is even a claim to be made at all, contact the knowledgeable lawyers at the Morris James Personal Injury Group. Chat live with a member of our team to learn more about your rights and schedule a free case evaluation today.
Types of Compensation Recovered in a Delaware Claim
Though it can be difficult to think about directly after the death of a loved one, there are many financial concerns to consider. This is especially true if the deceased earned vital income or provided important household services, such as childcare. In Delaware, family members can recover compensation to help ensure a secure financial future. As they deal with their grief and attempt to move forward with their lives, they shouldn’t have to worry about how to pay their bills or how they will take care of the children.
Our wrongful death team of lawyers can help family members obtain compensation for:
- Funeral expenses (up to a certain amount)
- Lost income and benefits
- Lost contributions of child or spousal support
- Lost household services
- Mental anguish
What Can I Expect From a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Many of our clients have two important questions when approaching a wrongful death case: how long will the case take, and what kind of compensation can we expect? Every case is unique, and no two situations will have the exact same outcome. The wrongful death attorneys at Morris James Personal Injury Group are dedicated to fighting to protect the rights and the livelihood of every client. While our goal is to resolve every wrongful death case as quickly as possible and obtain the maximum amount of compensation, it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen.
While some straightforward cases can be settled in a matter of months, many cases require a longer time commitment. Typically, these cases involve negotiations with large insurance companies. These companies are out to protect their own interests, while we fight for our clients. Our wrongful death lawyers are committed to taking the time and effort necessary for a successful negotiation. However, some cases cannot be settled and must go to trial, an event that does take additional time and preparation.
Regardless of the time frame, our team will fight to obtain the compensation your family deserves. Settlement amounts vary from case to case. An award can be affected by income level, lifestyle, amount of available insurance, the circumstances of the death, and many other related factors. When you call our office, our experienced wrongful death lawyers can evaluate your case and help you determine how best to move forward.
At the Morris James Personal Injury Group, we understand how crushing it can be when a loved one dies because of someone else’s carelessness. We know the difficulties families can face—whether they are emotional or financial—and we strive to help ease some of those worries by fighting for fair compensation. If your loved one died in an accident or as a result of a person or business’ negligence, we want to help. Fill out our online contact form today to find answers to your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation in one of our many convenient Delaware locations.