Five things funeral directors should know about clients involved in wrongful death cases.
Funeral directors and their staff are often the first professionals consulted after someone has lost a loved one due to the carelessness of another. They provide critical guidance to people in an unbearably painful and vulnerable time of need. There are five main things funeral directors should know about their clients involved in wrongful death cases:
- 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 healthily. I highly recommend having referral relationships with grief counselors who understand the complexities of losing 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, relationships with clergy who can help provide solace in this time of suffering could help clients immensely. From a legal perspective, grief counselors and clergy members often become your clients’ best witnesses in the wrongful death case.
- 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 after that becomes a story that is told to insurance carriers and sometimes to juries to illustrate the severity of your client’s loss. I highly recommend recording and photographing the memorial services because those recordings and photographs often provide critical evidence in the wrongful death case. If your client has a wrongful death attorney, the attorney can pay for the recording and photography, as long as it’s used for legal purposes.
- If your client was involved in a car crash in Florida, there is a $5,000 death benefit on all PIP policies that can help pay for the funeral expenses. If your client is involved in a wrongful death case, the wrongful death attorney will often sign a letter of protection that ensures you get paid any outstanding balances when and if the case resolves. The letter of protection requires the attorney to pay you directly out of any settlement funds before disbursing money to the client at the end of the case. If the case is lost or results in no recovery, the client is still responsible for the bill, but if the case is settled like the vast majority of wrongful death cases, the bill is paid out of the settlement.
- Memorabilia such as posters, signs, sign-in books, letters to the deceased, keepsakes, giveaways, and any kind of funeral favor can become valuable evidence in the wrongful death case. The thoughtfulness and the heart and soul that often goes into memorabilia often illustrate the depth of love your client had for the deceased. They can provide powerful symbols to illustrate the severity of your client’s loss. Please encourage your clients to keep these in a safe place.
- Often the last thing your client wants to do when dealing with the loss of a loved one is to consult a lawyer. This is completely understandable. However, your client needs to have the guidance of an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. There are 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. If your client’s beloved died due to the carelessness of another, it would be wise to encourage them to seek legal counsel immediately.
If you have any questions or need further guidance, please feel free to call me anytime at (850)777-7777.
Wrongful Death Attorney
Fasig Brooks Law Offices