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What Is a Wrongful Death Case?

When a loved one dies unexpectedly, feelings of grief, loss, and confusion are common. If the death occurred due to someone else’s careless or intentional acts, these feelings can understandably become mixed with a strong sense of injustice. Wyoming law allows survivors to seek compensation under these circumstances, and a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that seeks financial recovery for those affected by this type of devastating loss. A wrongful death lawyer in Casper, Wyoming can help you discover whether your case will qualify and what steps to take.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Wyoming?

Wyoming’s approach to determining who can initiate wrongful death claims involves a unique procedure. While most states follow one of two models – either granting the right to the deceased’s closest relatives or to the personal representative of their estate – Wyoming’s law adds an additional layer.

In this state, individuals who were closely connected to the deceased, such as a spouse or children, are eligible to apply to become the wrongful death representative. This involves submitting documentation to the court and obtaining approval to proceed with the lawsuit. The process ensures that the individual representing the claim has a direct and significant link to the deceased.

Those who can demonstrate they had a tangible relationship with the deceased or are primarily responsible for managing their estate have the best change of being appointed as the wrongful death representative. This system in Wyoming ensures that the person pursuing the claim is best positioned to represent the interests and the impact of the loss on those left behind.

What Is Negligence?

Negligence is the primary legal basis for most Wyoming wrongful death claims. It is a legal term that describes a person’s failure to exercise the degree of care a reasonable person would have in the same situation. Negligence can arise from various acts or omissions. Some common examples that may give rise to a wrongful death lawsuit include:

In Car Accidents

When a crash is caused by a negligent driver, such as by driving while drunk or distracted, a wrongful death claim may ensue.

Medical Malpractice

Medical errors, like misdiagnosis, improper procedures, or medication mistakes, can lead to fatalities that allow for a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible medical professionals.

Preventable Workplace Accidents

Dangerous workplaces especially, such as construction sites or mining operations, can be the setting for fatal accidents. While those who work in dangerous environments voluntarily take on some degree of risk, it’s also the responsibility of the employer to follow all safety regulations to create as safe a workplace as possible. A failure to do so can be grounds for a lawsuit.

Defective Products

When faulty or poorly designed products result in a death, the manufacturer, retailer, or other party in the chain of distribution may be liable in a wrongful death suit.

Damages That May Be Recovered

Wyoming wrongful death lawsuits are meant to provide financial compensation for specific losses resulting from the death. While monetary recovery cannot restore the deceased or undo the pain caused, it can help families cope with the financial aftermath of losing a loved one. Compensation may be available for lost wages, inheritance, and benefits the deceased person would likely have provided to their family.

Medical expenses can also be recovered, and these include costs directly incurred by the deceased person between the injury and death, such as emergency care, hospitalization, and treatment. The cost of the funeral and burial expenses can be substantial, and these can also be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. You may also be able to recover for loss of companionship and consortium. This acknowledges the loss of love, comfort, society, and guidance a deceased person provided to their spouse and family. Finally, in some cases, compensation can cover grief and emotional distress, including pain and suffering, caused by a wrongful death.

Statute of Limitations for Filing in Wyoming

A “Statute of Limitations” is a law that places a strict deadline on when a case can be filed. In Wyoming, wrongful death cases must be brought within two years of the date of death. Failing to meet this deadline usually results in the loss of the right to pursue the claim. As there are some exceptions in very specific cases, it is best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Factors That May Affect a Wrongful Death Case

Every wrongful death case is unique, and it’s essential to remember that the outcome depends heavily on the specific circumstances. One factor that may influence a case is the strength of the evidence. Establishing liability requires having clear evidence demonstrating that the defendant acted negligently or engaged in intentional acts that caused the death. The deceased person’s age and earning potential also matters, as the impact a death has on future income potential can greatly influence the amount of financial damages a family may recover.

Finally, the existence of comparative fault will make a difference. Wyoming law recognizes the concept of comparative fault, and this means if the deceased person contributed to the accident or injury, the award of damages may be reduced to reflect the percentage of that fault. Talk to your wrongful death lawyer in Casper, Wyoming about how to ensure your loved one isn’t blamed for more fault than they actually hold, as it’s a common insurance company tactic to take advantage of comparative fault.

Why Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Casper, Wyoming

While pursuing legal action should not be your immediate focus after a loved one’s death, seeking advice from an experienced Wyoming wrongful death attorney quickly can still be helpful. Your lawyer will be able to discuss your legal options and evaluate whether you have grounds to proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims require a thorough investigation to build a strong case, as well, and a skilled lawyer can collect evidence, interview witnesses, and work with experts to analyze the incident, protecting you from much of the emotional burden at the same time.

The legal system can be intimidating when you lack insider knowledge of deadlines and procedures. An attorney can take care of all filings, motions, and communication with the defendant, insurance companies, and the court on your behalf. A lawyer can also help provide you with a realistic picture of what you might be able to recover in damages, given the facts of your situation. And since many wrongful death cases are resolved through settlement negotiations, you’ll want an experienced attorney who ca can advocate for the best outcome on your behalf.

But some cases can’t be settled, and in others, settling quietly may not be in the interest of justice and accountability. If that’s the case, you need a legal expert ready and willing to bring a wrongful death lawsuit to court and hold negligent parties accountable.

Losing a loved one in a preventable situation is a shattering experience, but Wyoming law does provide a way to hold the liable party accountable for what they’ve done. If you believe your family has a potential wrongful death claim, contact the attorneys at Ochs Law Firm for help right away.

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Our experienced Wyoming personal injury lawyer, Jason E. Ochs will fight to help you recover proper compensation in a class action, pharmaceutical, and medical cases throughout multiple states. Contact us today.

Jason E. Ochs

Jason began his legal career in 2002 with a national multi-district litigation law firm in Newport Beach, California. There he worked on a variety of high-profile, complex-litigation projects including pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation across the country.

The Ochs Law Firm epitomizes professionalism and commitment to all of our clients, regardless of the size of the case or the might of the Defendant. We practice in Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and California in personal injury litigation, medical malpractice, defective products, class action lawsuits, Qui Tam lawsuits, litigation across multiple districts, bad faith insurance, and civil litigation.

We look forward to providing top quality service and representation for you and your family.