If your loved one died as a result of someone’s wrongdoing, a wrongful death lawsuit may provide you with financial compensation to help you cope with the resulting loss.
No death is ever easy, especially when a loved one passes away unexpectedly. Family and friends may offer emotional help, but the loss also can cause financial hardship. Struggling to pay bills while processing a death may leave you overwhelmed financially, as well as emotionally, so you deserve the help that a wrongful death lawsuit claim can provide.
There are many reasons to contact a wrongful death lawyer. The legal process can help restore some stability to daily life, and prevent a similar tragedy from happening to others. Some families feel they honor the memory of their loved one by seeking justice for the loss. Receiving compensation often feels like some acknowledgement of the magnitude of the wrong, which itself can help provide solace and bring closure.
What Is Wrongful Death?
When someone carelessly or intentionally causes your loved one’s passing, you can take legal action through what is called a “wrongful death” claim. Almost since South Dakota became a state, South Dakota law has provided that when death is caused intentionally or through carelessness, the deceased’s surviving next of kin can bring a claim against the wrongdoer. Even if a related criminal proceeding is pending, you can pursue a civil claim for wrongful death. Your wrongful death lawyer will represent your interests during the process.
In South Dakota, wrongful death beneficiaries are eligible for monetary damages that result from the wrongful death. A legal representative of the deceased’s next of kin, appointed by the court, must bring the claim on behalf of all potential beneficiaries. Damages are based on the losses those various beneficiaries experienced as a result of the untimely death.
How Long Does the Process Take?
A wrongful death claim goes through several stages, though it may be possible to settle the claim with the other side and receive compensation at any one of these stages:
- Investigating: The legal team at your wrongful death attorney’s office will gather facts about how the death occurred, information about the deceased, and details about what the deceased’s relationship was like with the next of kin.
- Presenting a claim: Your attorney may try to settle the claim without a lawsuit; if the case is not settled early on, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed with the court.
- Discovery: The parties exchange information through their attorneys. You may be asked to give testimony or present documentation about your loved one.
- Pre-trial motions: Attorneys make arguments about, and the court decides, various issues about whether and how the case will proceed.
- Trial: A jury of local citizens will hear and decide the case.
- Appeal: If one or both parties are dissatisfied with the verdict, they can appeal the case to the South Dakota Supreme Court, which normally will issue a final decision.
The entire process may take as little as a few months or as long as several years, depending on how complex the issues are and how persistently the defense resists the claim. It can be important to start early, to avoid any problems with legal deadlines and to be in the best position to gather facts necessary to prove the claim. Your lawyer will provide the guidance and representation you require.
When you lose a loved one, you are not alone. With a dedicated wrongful death lawyer on your side, you will have an advocate fighting for your wrongful death claim. Contact the wrongful death lawyers at Turbak Law online or call us at 866-231-0914. Consultations are free of obligation and offer you a chance to speak confidentially about your loved one.