Five Things All Clergy Members Should Know About Wrongful Death Cases.

Clergy members are often the first people consulted after somebody loses a loved one, so it’s incredibly important for clergy members to be prepared to offer their help.

  1. Losing a loved one is always painful.  When the beloved dies due to the carelessness of another, that pain is often amplified because of the injustice.  The survivors often suffer from psychotic breaks or turn to drugs and alcohol to ease the pain.  It’s critical to guide them to grief counselors as soon as possible so they can deal with the pain in a healthy way.  I highly recommend having referral relationships with grief counselors who understand the complexities of having lost a loved one due to the negligence of another and who can step in quickly to help ease the client’s suffering.  For religious clients, I would encourage them to seek solace from their church or religious leader in addition to the grief counselor.  From a legal perspective, grief counselors and clergy members often become your clients’ best witnesses in a wrongful death case.
  2. Evidence of your clients’ damages in a wrongful death case begins accumulating as soon as the survivors learn about the loss.  Everything that happens immediately thereafter becomes a story told to insurance carriers and sometimes to juries to illustrate the severity of your client’s loss.  To preserve evidence related to your clients’ damages, it’s essential for your clients to consult an experienced wrongful death attorney as early as possible in the process.  For instance, I highly recommend recording and photographing the memorial services because those recordings and photographs often provide critical evidence in the wrongful death case.  I also recommend my clients begin journaling as soon as possible to help deal with the pain and to document it.  And I prefer if my client maintains the deceased’s belongings undisturbed while the wrongful death case is pending.  There are also many pitfalls that clients should avoid, such as posting on social media or starting a Go Fund Me Campaign.  Those actions could seriously harm the prospects of the wrongful death case.  
  3. If your client was involved in a car crash in Florida, there is a $5,000 death benefit on all PIP policies to help pay for funeral or other expenses.  If your client is involved in a wrongful death case, the wrongful death attorney can often pay for the probate expenses up front as part of the legal costs of prosecuting the case.  If you refer a wrongful death case to a wrongful death lawyer, you can often collect a 25% referral fee, which can be in addition to the amount you charge for handling the probate.
  4. If your client’s loved one suffered an accidental death, there may be a viable wrongful death case even if the deceased was clearly at fault for the accident.  I’ve had multiple cases where we’ve recovered millions of dollars for clients who were clearly at fault due to Florida’s comparative negligence laws. It might be wise to review your caseload for the last two years to see if any of the cases involved accidental deaths.
  5. In situations where there are multiple survivors, it’s best to encourage the survivors to choose an independent personal representative of the estate.  There is an inherent conflict of interest when one of the beneficiaries of the estate is also named personal representative.  Choosing an independent personal representative helps avoid a host of problems.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to call me anytime at (850)777-7777.


Jimmy Fasig

Wrongful Death Attorney

Fasig Brooks Law Offices