Losing a loved one is a tragedy. It becomes even more heartbreaking when someone else's action, negligence, or carelessness causes the death. The term for this type of death is wrongful death. Besides justice, wrongful death warrants fair compensation to help the decedent's loved ones cover financial losses.
Seeking legal help in such cases can substantially aid in securing fair and just compensation for your loss.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we understand the devastation and despair that follows the wrongful death of a loved one. Our team of experienced North Dakota wrongful death lawyers strives to help you navigate this difficult journey with empathy and support.
Call us at 1-855-NICOLET for a free case evaluation today.
Why Choose Us
With a strong track record for resolving wrongful death cases in North Dakota, Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers work to hold the responsible parties accountable and secure the compensation you and your family deserve.
Our services extend beyond just legal representation. We strive to provide comfort, guidance, and assurance in your time of need. Over the years, we have built a reputation for excellence in North Dakota, earning our peers' and clients' trust and respect.
Whether you need an understanding of the nuances of wrongful death claims, seek advice on how to file a claim, or require representation in court, Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers are here to help. Let us navigate this difficult legal terrain and help you start rebuilding your life after such a devastating loss.
By working with our team, you can get assistance with:
- Gathering evidence: Our attorneys collect evidence from the incident scene, police reports, eyewitness statements, camera footage, and more.
- Preparing and tendering documents: We file a claim at the right place and time to avoid payout delays.
- Building a strong case against the at-fault party: We use our extensive legal skills to create an argument that leads to a reasonable settlement with the insurance company or in court.
We have consistently achieved favorable client results through settlements or jury verdicts. Our successes span an array of wrongful death scenarios, each showing our tenacity in pursuing justice for our clients.
Wrongful Death Claims in North Dakota
Every year, hundreds of people become victims of someone else's negligence, leading to fatal outcomes. Many of these deaths occur on the roads. Counties with the highest accident fatalities include Rolette County, McKenzie County, and Stark County.
In North Dakota, wrongful death claims are civil lawsuits against parties who have directly or indirectly caused the death of another individual due to negligence, recklessness, or other forms of oversight.
These lawsuits aim to compensate for the financial and emotional losses the deceased's family members or dependents suffered. As such, wrongful death claims are crucial in holding wrongdoers accountable financially.
Understanding the various scenarios that can lead to a wrongful death claim can assist in identifying potential cases and seeking necessary legal help.
Explanation of Wrongful Death Under North Dakota Law
North Dakota Cent. Code § 32-21-01 defines wrongful death as a death owing to the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another party. The act that resulted in death must be such that the deceased would have had the entitlement to file a personal injury claim had they survived.
In essence, the deceased’s survivors file a wrongful death claim that the victim could have brought as a personal injury claim had they lived.
Damages that loved ones can recover in these cases, however, aren't limited to the decedent's losses. You can also sue for damages related to the way a decedent's death affects your family, including loss of companionship and loss of financial support.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in North Dakota
The statute of limitations sets a timeframe for your legal actions. In North Dakota, you have two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit after your loved one dies. While two years seems sufficient to file a claim, many people delay legal action because of grief. Some victims don't know about the limitation and lose their chance to obtain compensation.
If you try to file a lawsuit after the time limit, the at-fault party can ask the judge to dismiss the case.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we recommend contacting an attorney and starting the legal process as soon as possible. The faster we begin gathering evidence and speaking to witnesses, the more likely we are to build a strong case.
Legal Requirements for a Wrongful Death Claim
Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim, even if they were close to the deceased. There are specific legal requirements that the person filing a lawsuit should meet.
Understanding these requirements is critical in determining the viability of a wrongful death claim.
In North Dakota, a person who can file a wrongful death claim can be (in the order listed):
- The decedent's spouse.
- The decedent's children (or child).
- The surviving parent of the decedent.
- The decedent's grandparents.
- A personal representative of the decedent's estate (also called executor).
- A person who had primary physical custody of the decedent before the incident causing wrongful death occurred.
This order means that if the decedent didn't have a spouse, the children could file a claim. If they didn't have children, the next in line are parents, and so on.
If any person who is first in line decides not to file a lawsuit or neglects to do so within 30 days after the next person in line demands to do so, that next person can file the claim instead. For example, if the grandparents ask parents to file a lawsuit, but they don't do it within 30 days, the grandparents can file the claim.
How Much Is My Case Worth?
The amount you can recover in a wrongful death case depends on many factors, including the at-fault party's insurance policy limits, the evidence you can present, and the negotiation skills of your wrongful death attorney.
For example, if your loved one dies in a car accident due to someone else's negligence, you can only ask the insurance company to pay the maximum according to the policy.
In North Dakota, minimal mandatory car insurance covers $25,000 in bodily injury per person or $50,000 per accident. If your claim is $100,000, you can receive $25,000 from the insurance company and sue the driver for another $75,000. However, many companies and individuals will have insurance coverage that is well above the mandatory minimum amounts. An attorney can help you find out the true coverage available on your claim.
The final amount depends on the damages you can recover and how much evidence you have to claim them. Some of these damages are:
- Medical expenses from before the deceased's death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Loss of the deceased's future earnings.
- Loss of the deceased's guidance, counsel, and companionship.
- The pain and suffering the deceased experienced before death.
These damages can include:
Economic damages include quantifiable financial losses, such as medical expenses related to the deceased's treatment after the incident, funeral and burial costs, and the loss of the deceased's expected earnings.
Non-economic damages are intangible losses, such as emotional distress or the loss of companionship, care, or guidance. More often than not, non-economic damages make up a larger portion of the payout but proving them is harder.
Our team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers knows exactly how to collect evidence and work with expert witnesses to recover fair non-economic damages.
In some cases, the court may also award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer for highly outrageous behavior and deter similar.
Every wrongful death case is unique, so the amount of compensation can vary significantly from case to case. Other factors that can influence the amount of compensation include the deceased's age, their health condition before the incident, their earning capacity, and the number of dependents.
While it's difficult to predict exact figures, at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, we use skills and experience to accurately estimate potential compensation and aggressively pursue the maximum amount on behalf of our clients. We possess a strong track record of achieving substantial settlements and verdicts in wrongful death cases across North Dakota.
What to Do After a Wrongful Death Occurs
If your loved one has recently passed away due to negligence, you can take certain steps to protect your rights. While you are still grieving, you can initiate a series of events that can lead to fair compensation without significant emotional and physical effort.
The first step is to contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer. A qualified lawyer can give you a free consultation to assess your case and discuss your rights and options.
The attorney can work with you to gather evidence and build a strong case on your behalf. This may include collecting all relevant medical records, police reports, accident reports, witness statements, photographs, and other relevant materials. They may also contact expert witnesses to testify on your behalf.
After the evidence is ready, the lawyer can evaluate its strength and develop a robust legal strategy to ensure accountability of responsible parties and fair compensation.
Negotiating a Fair Settlement
Our services at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers go beyond traditional representation. We understand the emotional turmoil of wrongful death cases, and we offer our clients compassionate and comprehensive legal support.
Our services include:
- Collecting and examining evidence to support your wrongful death claim.
- Negotiating with insurance companies for fair compensation.
- Preparing and presenting your case in court if necessary.
- Providing you with regular updates and professional advice every step of the way.
Negotiating with the insurance company is one of the hardest elements of a wrongful death case. The insurance adjuster's goal is to avoid or keep any payouts to a minimum. Grieving family members can have difficulty defending their rights and demanding reasonable compensation.
Insurance companies know about your emotional state and often use it against you. That's why having an experienced negotiator by your side is imperative.
We understand that every wrongful death case is a personal tragedy. Our firm dedicates itself to providing top-notch legal representation and the empathy and understanding you need during this difficult time. We know that negotiations with insurance companies and the at-fault party's lawyers can be emotionally taxing. Our legal team takes over the burden and gives you the much-needed time to grieve.
Going to Court
If negotiations with the insurance company don't go as you planned, experienced attorneys can take the case to court. Once in court, your attorney presents a strong case to the judge and the jury.
During the proceedings, the at-fault party is likely to negotiate further. Skilled wrongful death attorneys can handle these negotiations and maximize your chances of obtaining a fair payout.
Contact an Experienced North Dakota Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Finding the right legal representative can make all the difference in times of loss. Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers has established itself as a trusted ally for North Dakota families facing wrongful death claims. Our commitment to our clients and their cases sets us apart from local law firms.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers, our North Dakota personal injury lawyers always here for you. Your path to justice and financial recovery starts here. Call us for a free consultation today. If you don't have an opportunity to travel to our office, we can arrange a video conference for your convenience.