Wrongful Death

The death of a loved one from an accident or the wrongful conduct of another person is a tragedy that is never forgotten. At Green & Gillispie, we understand the shock and emotions that you and your family are experiencing as you struggle to comprehend the enormity of your loss.

While nothing can replace the loss of a parent, spouse, child, or sibling, families often must contend with the loss of income, the value of household services that the decedent provided, as well as the extreme emotional loss and mental anguish. Your avenue to being compensated for the wrongful death of your loved one is often through the insurer of the person or entity responsible for the accident, but there are often obstacles preventing you and your family from receiving the compensation to which you are entitled.

The attorneys at Green & Gillispie are highly experienced in wrongful death claims and will handle all aspects of your claim to ensure you have the best opportunity to obtain the most compensation available. We offer our clients compassion and understanding during this difficult time while working diligently on your claim, including examining all possible defendants and avenues of compensation. We will keep you updated on the progress of your claim, the steps involved, and negotiations once your claim is ready to be settled. We are also prepared to take your claim to trial if there are no reasonable offers or the time period for filing is running out.

Technically, there are two types of claims that can be filed after someone’s death in Arkansas: a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. The main difference between the two is that wrongful death claims compensate family members for their losses, while survival claims compensate the estate for the losses suffered by the deceased before death. The compensation for a survival claim goes directly to the victim’s estate. The compensation for a wrongful death claim brought by family members goes to those family members.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a personal injury action resulting from the death of a person killed by the negligent, reckless, intentional, or otherwise unlawful conduct of another individual or that of a business or similar entity. The surviving family members of the deceased can bring these claims.

A wrongful death claim can originate from any type of accident such as:

  • Motor vehicle accident
  • Pedestrian accident
  • Motorcycle or boating accident
  • Slip and fall
  • Medical malpractice
  • Product liability (defective products and drugs)
  • Negligent security
  • Intentional tort

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are filed by the representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the immediate family members.

Family members eligible for compensation include:

  • Decedent’s spouse, parent, children, and siblings
  • Persons who have standing as “in locus parentis,” or in the place of a parent
  • Any individuals whom the decedent cared for as “in locus parentis” for them

Have You been Involved In A Wrongful Death?

What are the Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?

There are different types of damages that can be sought, depending on whether the claim is a survival claim made on behalf of the deceased’s estate or a wrongful death claim made on behalf of the deceased’s family members.  The survival claim is to compensate the estate for damages the decedent sustained as a result of his or her untimely death.  The wrongful death or “family member claim is for the benefit of the surviving members of the decedent’s immediate family.

The different damages for each category are:

Family Claim

  • Loss of the financial support the beneficiaries would have received
  • Loss of employment benefits
  • Loss of the value of household services provided by the decedent (cooking, cleaning, child-care, shopping, gardening)
  • Loss of the decedent’s love, comfort, guidance, and counsel
  • Emotional trauma and mental anguish

Estate Claim

  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Medical bills incurred for the decedent’s last illness or care for injuries
  • Pain and suffering of the decedent before succumbing to death
  • Loss of value of life
  • Loss of the decedent’s income and any earnings that the estate would have earned over the decedent’s life

What Evidence is Needed to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim?

Liability and Causation

Like any other personal injury claim, your wrongful death attorneys at Green & Gillispie will have to prove that another individual’s or entity’s conduct was careless, negligent, reckless, or unlawful in causing the decedent’s death.

Often, experts are needed to prove liability. An accident reconstruction specialist will examine statements from witnesses, the damage to vehicles involved if a motor vehicle accident, the accident site, and the conduct of the parties. In more complex cases, an expert in human factors may be used to explain how the defendant’s negligent conduct contributed to the accident and caused the death of the decedent, and possibly that the decedent’s conduct did not contribute to his/her death.

In product liability actions where a drug, medical device, or piece of equipment was the cause or contributed to the person’s death, experts in design, manufacturing and marketing of products are typically used to show that the product was flawed in its design and/or manufacture, or was misrepresented in how safe it was for a particular purpose. If a physician or other medical professional is the defendant, medical experts in the same field are required to testify that the defendant’s conduct fell below a certain standard of care and caused the injuries that led to the person’s death.

Damages

Damages are an essential component of any claim. Economic or financial losses can be substantial in a wrongful death claim, and are usually proved by the analysis of an expert in forensic economics who can testify as to the value of household services performed by the decedent, the present value of the income the decedent was reasonably expected to have earned over his/her working life, and the benefits that were lost.

When Does a Wrongful Death Claim Have to be Filed?

Generally, you have three years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death claim in Arkansas. Under some circumstances, the statute of limitations can be extended. For example, in some cases such as medical malpractice, if the defendant’s wrongful or negligent conduct could not have been discovered in time through the exercise of reasonable diligence, then the statute may be extended. Also, if a minor is the one who could benefit from the claim and was left without a parent, the time period for filing the claim may be extended as well.

Do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Green & Gillispie if another person or corporation killed your loved one in an accident, by a defective product, or due to some other unlawful conduct. Failing to file on time can prevent you from receiving the compensation you and your family need and deserve.

Retain Green & Gillispie

Green & Gillispie is a law firm dedicated to the rights of persons injured through the wrongful acts of others. We offer free consultations regarding your claim and do not recover any fees unless we are able to recover compensation on your behalf.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?

You pay nothing out-of-pocket. Personal injury cases are taken by lawyers on a contingency basis, or a percentage of the gross settlement or award that is spelled out in our written contingency agreement with you. If we recover nothing, then you pay nothing. In complex injury cases, attorneys will usually ask for a higher percentage because the case will require much more expense, resources, work and skills. Also, in some cases the percentage is determined by statute or state law.

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

How much is my injury claim worth?

It depends on the degree of liability of the other party, your own conduct, how serious your injuries are, how they affect your life, your ability to work and earn an income, the reasonableness of your medical care and costs, and if your injury will be permanent, among many other factors that are considered in evaluating a claim. Of course, what insurance is available is also a consideration. No two cases are exactly alike, and no attorney can or should guarantee that you will receive a certain amount.

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

What damages can I collect for my injury claim?

You are entitled to economic or special damages that include your medical expenses, property damage, and income loss. You can also collect general or non-economic damages for your pain and suffering against the responsible party, and for how your injuries have diminished your enjoyment of life. Emotional distress, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, embarrassment over scarring or disfigurement, insomnia, development of an addiction to pain medication, and other trauma are also part of your damages. If the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious, malicious, or grossly negligent, you could be awarded punitive damages as well.

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

Why do I need a personal injury lawyer if my case is so clear-cut?

Few injury claims are clear-cut as to who is at fault, and there may be other parties who were responsible. But even if another party admits liability, you can harm your case by talking to adjusters and investigators and unknowingly making comments that could place some fault on yourself or that minimizes your injuries. There are also issues about the extent or seriousness of your injuries and proof of your damages that insurance companies will question and challenge. There are many factors that insurance companies consider when handling and evaluating claims. Your Green & Gillispie injury lawyer is trained and experienced in these issues and in how to deal with and negotiate with insurance companies.

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

How do I know if I have an injury claim?

Talk to a personal injury lawyer who will review the facts of your case and the applicable laws. Usually, if someone or a company acted carelessly or even intentionally in causing your injuries, you can bring a claim against that person or business personally or depending on the nature of the accident, against that party’s auto policy, homeowner’s policy, commercial liability insurance, or the person’s employer if they were on the job at the time. There may be other insurance policies that apply as well.

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

How long do I have to bring an injury claim?

In Arkansas, you generally have 3-years from the date of injury or when you discovered or should have discovered your injury. Persons under 18 when injured generally have 3-years after they turn 18 to file a claim. In some complex cases, you may not realize what caused your injuries until years later but may still bring a claim under some circumstances. Keep in mind that some causes of action, such as intentional torts like assault and battery, only provide a 1-year statute of limitations. 

Got more questions? Contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

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