Des Moines Wrongful Death Attorney

There are no words to describe the overwhelming grief and anguish of suddenly losing a beloved family member in an accident that never should have happened. In a moment, someone else's careless or reckless actions took your loved one from you, and now you’re likely going through one of the darkest chapters of your life.

If you suffered a tragic loss in Des Moines that someone else caused, please know that you have our deepest sympathies. As you struggle with your loss, you must understand that you have legal rights and options.

While no amount of money can ever bring back your family member, you qualify to receive significant compensation that can provide financial security and a measure of justice.

An experienced Des Moines wrongful death attorney at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers is ready to fight for you during this difficult time. We encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case.

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Understanding Wrongful Death Claims in Des Moines

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A wrongful death claim arises when someone dies due to the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another person or entity. In other words, it's a type of civil lawsuit alleging that the death was wrongfully caused and could have been prevented if not for the at-fault party's wrongdoing.

Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:

If your loved one died under circumstances like these, you may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. It's important to discuss the situation with a knowledgeable attorney who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Des Moines, Iowa?

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Iowa law specifies who can file a wrongful death lawsuit after a family member's death. The personal representative of the deceased person's estate is responsible for bringing the claim on behalf of the estate and surviving family members.

The damages recovered are then distributed to the appropriate individuals:

  • The surviving spouse and children (or if there are no children, the parents) receive an automatic entitlement to a portion of the damages
  • If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the damages go to the deceased person's estate and are distributed to other relatives according to inheritance laws

In addition to the estate's claim, certain family members can also bring their own individual wrongful death claims:

  • The surviving spouse can recover damages for loss of consortium (loss of companionship and support)
  • Minor children can recover damages for the loss of parental consortium (loss of a parent-child relationship)

Statistics About Wrongful Deaths in Iowa

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According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, unintentional injuries (accidents) are the 5th leading cause of death in Iowa, accounting for over 1,500 deaths per year on average.

Motor vehicle accidents caused 387 deaths in Iowa in a recent year, and there were 24 pedestrian fatalities in the state, accounting for 5.6% of all traffic fatalities. During the same time, the Iowa Department of Transportation reported 7 bicyclist fatalities.

Slip and fall accidents are another major cause of unintentional injury deaths in Iowa, especially among older adults. In a recent year, falls accounted for 508 deaths among Iowans aged 65 and older. Additionally, falls were the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths in Iowa, accounting for 17% of such fatalities.

Although not all fatalities qualify as wrongful death, you need to speak with an attorney right away if you believe another party’s negligence or wrongdoing killed a close family member.

How a Des Moines Wrongful Death Attorney Can Help

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Trying to navigate the legal system on your own while coping with overwhelming grief is the last thing you need right now. Having an experienced wrongful death lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.

Here's how an attorney can help:

  • Investigate and Build Your Case: A lawyer will thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding your loved one's death to determine who was at fault and gather evidence to build a strong case. This may involve examining accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and other documentation.
  • Identify Insurance Coverage: Identifying all potential sources of insurance coverage is crucial for maximizing your recovery. An attorney can determine whether the at-fault party had liability insurance, as well as look for other policies that may apply, such as underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
  • Calculate Your Damages: A lawyer can help ensure you're seeking full and fair compensation for all the damages you're entitled to, including both economic and non-economic losses (more on this below).
  • Handle Communication and Negotiations: An attorney can handle all communication with the insurance companies and negotiate aggressively on your behalf for a fair settlement. This allows you to focus on grieving and healing with your family.
  • Take Your Case to Trial: If the insurance company won't offer an appropriate settlement, a lawyer can take your case to trial and present a compelling case to the jury to fight for the compensation your family deserves.

Damages in a Des Moines Wrongful Death Claim

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The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to compensate the deceased person's estate and family members for their losses stemming from the death. The types of damages that may be available include:

Economic Damages

These are the direct financial losses associated with the death, such as:

  • Medical expenses related to the deceased person's final injury or illness
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost income and benefits the deceased would have earned if they had lived

Non-Economic Damages

These are the intangible losses that are more difficult to quantify, such as:

  • Pain and suffering the deceased experienced before their death
  • Loss of the deceased person's love, companionship, comfort, guidance, and support
  • Loss of consortium (for the surviving spouse)
  • Loss of parental consortium (for minor children)

Punitive Damages

In rare cases involving gross negligence or intentional harm, the court may award punitive damages in addition to any economic or non-economic damages. These punish the wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar misconduct.

The value of a wrongful death claim depends on numerous factors, including the age and health of the deceased, their earning capacity, the extent of the surviving family members' intangible losses, and the egregiousness of the at-fault party's conduct. An attorney can evaluate your case and estimate what it may be worth.

Why Choose Nicolet Law to Handle Your Des Moines Wrongful Death Case?

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At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we understand how devastating it is to lose a family member in a preventable accident. We're committed to providing compassionate support and aggressive advocacy to grieving families in their pursuit of justice. Here are a few reasons to choose us:

  • Experience Handling Wrongful Death Cases: Our attorneys have extensive experience representing families in complex wrongful death claims. We have a track record of success in holding negligent parties accountable and recovering substantial settlements and verdicts.
  • Knowledge of Iowa Wrongful Death Laws: We understand the unique rules and procedures that apply to wrongful death cases in Iowa. We'll file your claim properly and promptly to protect your rights.
  • Compassionate and Understanding Approach: We recognize that this is an incredibly painful time for you and your family. Our team will treat you with the utmost compassion, respect, and sensitivity through every stage of the process. We're here to listen to your story, answer your questions, and support and guide you during this difficult chapter in your life.
  • Strong Communication and Negotiation Skills: We believe in keeping our clients fully informed and involved throughout the legal process. We'll explain everything clearly, provide regular case updates, and promptly return your calls and emails. We're also skilled negotiators who will advocate fiercely for your family in settlement discussions.
  • Awards and Honors: Several of our lawyers have received national recognition for their legal excellence and client service. We've been named Top 40 Under 40 by The National Trial Lawyers, and we've earned designation as SuperLawyers—a recognition given to only the top 5% of attorneys in each state.
  • Case Results: We've recovered millions of dollars in compensation for families who have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. While we can't guarantee a particular result in your case, we can promise to fight tirelessly to pursue the best possible outcome for your family.
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Des Moines Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much does a Des Moines wrongful death lawyer cost?

A: At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay no upfront fees or out-of-pocket costs to hire us. We only collect a fee if and when we recover compensation for you. Our fee is a percentage of the settlement or verdict we obtain on your behalf. If we don't win your case, you owe us nothing.

Q: How long will it take to settle my wrongful death claim in Des Moines?

A: The timeline for resolving a wrongful death claim varies widely depending on the circumstances. Some cases may settle in a matter of months, while others may take a year or longer, particularly if a lawsuit must be filed and the case goes to trial.

We know you want to resolve your case as quickly as possible to gain closure. We'll work efficiently to keep your case moving forward while also taking the time to build the strongest claim possible.

Q: What if the deceased was partly responsible for causing their death?

A: If your loved one's own negligence contributed to the accident, Iowa follows a modified comparative negligence rule. Under this rule, the deceased's negligence will not bar recovery for the family as long as their share of fault was 51% or less.

However, the damages awarded will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of fault. So if your loved one is found 30% to blame, the damages will be reduced by 30%.

Q: Can I file a claim if I'm not an immediate family member?

A: As mentioned earlier, Iowa wrongful death law designates the personal representative of the estate to bring the wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate and surviving family members.

The surviving spouse and children (or parents if there are no children) have the automatic right to the damages. If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, more distant relatives may receive the damages through inheritance laws.

Q: How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Iowa?

A: The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in Iowa is generally two years from the date of the person's death. However, there may be some exceptions that shorten or lengthen this timeframe. To avoid losing your right to take legal action, consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Get Help from a Des Moines Wrongful Death Attorney Today

Russell D. Nicolet, Attoreny for Wrongful Death in Des Moines
Des Moines Wrongful Death Lawyer, Russell Nicolet

If you lost a family member in a fatal accident in Des Moines, don't try to navigate this tragic time on your own. You need a trusted advocate in your corner who can handle the legal details so you can focus on honoring your loved one's memory and beginning to heal.

At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we're here to provide the caring support and tireless advocacy you need. We know we can't erase your unimaginable loss, but we can fight to hold the at-fault party accountable and secure the financial recovery your family needs to move forward.

Contact us today at (515) 381-2181 for a free consultation with a compassionate Des Moines personal injury attorney. We're ready to put our skills and resources to work for you.