Coping with the loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult times for any family. Even more trying is when the death of your loved one was the result of someone else’s negligent actions or wrongdoings.
Most wrongful deaths occur from falls, motor vehicle accidents, and unintentional poisonings. Also true is that if these deaths were unintentional, most of them were most likely preventable. It’s the preventable factor of the incident that will convince a judge or jury the death was legally wrongful.
In Arkansas, wrongful death claims can be filed and are typically initiated by a family member of the deceased.
These family members include:
If the deceased individual has no close relatives to represent them, under Arkansas law their closest relative may file a wrongful death lawsuit.
You, as the family member, can essentially file two types of claims after someone’s death in Arkansas.
- A Survival Claim – A survival claim is a personal injury claim for the deceased. This claim aims to receive compensation for the departed. Usually, all compensation that is received through a survival claim will be sent to the deceased’s estate. A survival claim’s goal is to provide compensation for things such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
- A Wrongful Death Claim – This claim is meant to provide compensation to the loved ones whose lives were directly impacted by their family members’ passing. This claim aims to pay compensation for things like medical bills leading up to the death, funeral costs, and virtually anything caused by the wrongful death that may have brought on financial, or personal hardship.
As the family member filing the wrongful death lawsuit, you must be aware that these cases are commonly complex, must follow strict legal rules, and have set deadlines. Consulting with a Little Rock personal injury law firm that is fluent in all aspects of wrongful death cases is the best way to ensure the success of your wrongful death lawsuit.
How is Wrongful Death Defined in the Arkansas Courts?
When a business or another individual’s negligence causes the death of your family member, you may be able to receive compensation on their behalf through a wrongful death lawsuit. Since the deceased is, of course, unable to file a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff in wrongful death claims is usually always a family member.
The civil court in Arkansas tries all the wrongful death claims, not the criminal court. Although, also in Arkansas, your wrongful death claim may still be filed even when a criminal case is in the works for the same incident. A criminal case is designed to bring justice to the family by punishing the at-fault party for their negligence. While a wrongful death case looks to provide compensation to family members for any financial hardships they may encounter due to losing a loved one.
Arkansas law defines wrongful death as being caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another individual party. You, as the family member also have the option of filing a claim for an unborn child if the death resulted from actions or inactions of another individual or an illegal abortion.
Also, in a wrongful death claim, the family members will need to appoint a personal representative to handle all aspects of the filing. This person may have been previously established by the decedent, or the Arkansas court may make the decision. They then will start, and continue the work with their wrongful death lawyer, to show how you and the family have been affected because a negligent party caused the fatality.
What Are the Four Factors That Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In any wrongful death lawsuit in Arkansas, there are four elements of your case that you and your personal injury lawyer must prove to the courts.
Simply, they are:
- Whatever business or person had a duty of care to the individual whose life was taken.
- This business or person breached this duty.
- Your loved one’s death was a direct result of this breach.
- The Remaining family members have suffered due to the loss of their loved one’s wrongful death.
These facts may seem simple at first, but these cases inherently are not legally simple at all. Your case may involve photos, witnesses, pertinent documents (including medical), and many more items to be properly collected, organized, and presented to the courts. The experience of your Little Rock personal injury lawyer in litigating wrongful deaths will be invaluable to get you, and your family the funds and support to carry on your lives. This fact cannot be overstated.
What Damages May Be Available to Me, and My Family in a Wrongful Death Settlement?
In a well-presented and successful wrongful death case “damages”, or the families claimed losses, are awarded to the deceased person’s survivors to compensate them for the death. Under Arkansas law, the types of potential damages available in a wrongful death suit fall into two categories:
- Damages awarded on behalf of the deceased person’s family.
- Damages awarded on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
Damages awarded on behalf of the survivors of the deceased person or the “family claim” may include:
- Loss of the deceased person’s financial support.
- Emotional suffering, grief, and despair are associated with their death.
- Loss of care, services, and companionship the deceased would have provided to the surviving spouse.\
- Loss of education, training, or guidance the deceased might have provided his or her children.
Damages awarded on behalf of the deceased person’s estate may include:
- Funeral and burial costs.
- Medical bills for treatment of the deceased person’s causative injury.
- Pain and suffering the deceased endured before their death.
- The lost value of the deceased person’s remaining life, including wages he or she would likely have earned.
If you file either type of case, many factors can positively affect the final decision of the courts. Your best path for getting the success you want is to consult and coordinate your case with a highly experienced personal injury firm with numerous victories in wrongful death cases.
I’m Able and Wish to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit, What Should I Do First?
There are many details in a wrongful death case, so first consult with a personal injury law firm that has a record of successfully representing wrongful death clients in Little Rock.
The firm of Denton & Zachary is a personal injury/wrongful death firm that has represented grieving Little Rock clients in a myriad of victories. Consult with them today, and they will help you move forward with you, and your family’s life.