Choosing a wrongful death attorney may be the most important decision of your life. There can be a huge disparity between settlement values of wrongful death cases that varies from attorney to attorney. There are several factors you should consider before making your decision:
- How much experience does the attorney have, specifically in wrongful death cases? I highly recommend hiring an attorney who has tried and won at least one wrongful death case to verdict as lead counsel and someone who has litigated at least a dozen. Litigation means you file a Complaint with the court and initiate the process of preparing for trial. Most litigated cases settle before trial. You would be surprised how many wrongful death lawyers have never tried a case to verdict. It makes no sense to bet on a fighter who has never been in the ring. A trial lawyer who has never tried and won a case may be likelier to want to settle, even when the facts and evidence justify taking the case to trial. An experienced wrongful death lawyer understands the power of being willing and able to try the case;
- Does the attorney have enough life experience to be able to understand the complexities of losing a loved one and the pain and suffering that can be caused by a loved one’s early demise? Losing a family member is always painful, but when it’s done at the hands of somebody who was careless, the pain rises to an entirely different level. The more severe the carelessness, the worse the pain. Your attorney needs to understand how to build the evidence related to this type of grief and present it in the most persuasive way;
- Do you connect with the attorney? The relationship you build with your attorney can be an enormous factor in determining the value of your case. You want an attorney who cares about you, someone who will take the time and effort to get to know you before presenting your case at a mediation or in front of a jury. It’s so much easier to advocate for someone you care about than someone you don’t. It’s very important not to take that relationship for granted and to choose up front someone with whom you feel a connection.
- Look at the attorney’s online reviews. Google and Facebook reviews can tell you a lot about the attorney’s practice. The more reviews, the better. If an attorney doesn’t have many five-star reviews, that’s a red flag. I would not advise basing my entire decision on reviews on social media, but it’s a good way to weed out the ones you don’t want.
- Discuss with the attorney their philosophy and strategy for getting full and fair value for the wrongful death case. The attorney should be able to give you advice on building the evidence to prove the severity of the defendant’s negligence and also on how to build the evidence of damages. My philosophy for winning cases, for example, is to embrace the truth, warts and all, and let the power of the truth win the case. My strategy for wrongful death cases is to start with the assumption that we will get all available money and work from there by focusing on building the evidence to justify payment of the entire policy limits. If there are no policy limits, we set an aggressive goal and work from there. If your attorney can’t tell you their philosophy and strategy in a couple of quick sentences, they may not have a solid foundation on which to build a case.
I also recommend finding an attorney as quickly as possible after the claim arises. Evidence tends to fade and disappear quickly after a crash or an accident. It’s important not only to start building the evidence of the facts of the case against the defendant but also to build the evidence proving the damages in the case. For instance, it’s important to have a videographer and photographer at the memorial services. Those videos and photographs are often the most powerful pieces of evidence to present to a jury or an adjuster at mediation. If you’re religious, it’s important to go to your pastor, priest, or other religious leader soon after the death of a loved one, because they can not only help ease your suffering, they often present as the best possible witnesses on your behalf when proving your pain and suffering. That’s the kind of guidance you should expect from an attorney who cares.
Wrongful Death Lawyer
Fasig Brooks Law Offices