There is no such thing as a manageable loss. Whether it is sudden or long-anticipated, the death of a human is not something that anyone can look over. When a loved one passes away, the healing process can be long and painful, and it can feel lonely. No charming advice, vengeful justice, or comforting words can bring them back. A compassionate Fairbanks wrongful death attorney at Ringstad Law Office, P.C. can empathize with you and want to make your path back to everyday life as smooth as possible.
So, what exactly is a wrongful death claim? When someone dies due to another person’s negligence or fault, the deceased person’s family or loved ones may have a wrongful death claim. Negligence is described as failing to act as a typical, reasonable person would have acted, and it can cause a car accident, a defective product accident, or even unsafe conditions. A death that results from any of these situations would be described as a wrongful death.
These cases can be financially draining for a family because they often include a long time in the hospital, making the victim comfortable or trying to heal whatever ailments may have been wrongfully caused. Those are the expenses the lawyers at Ringstad Law Office, P.C. are prepared to help you collect. Under no circumstance should you have to pay for another person’s negligence at the cost of your loved one’s life.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim can be filed in Alaska any time the deceased person could have brought a personal injury claim to court if they had lived. The decedent’s family members may bring a wrongful death claim in many states. In Alaska, only the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. There is only one exception: a parent may file a wrongful death claim when the claim is for the wrongful death of a fetus. The executor who files a wrongful death claim does so on behalf of the estate, which means that the heirs to the estate will benefit from a successful wrongful death claim.
Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit a Criminal Case?
A wrongful death claim is not a criminal case, although a criminal case can also be filed as a result of a death where a criminal offense occurred that caused the death. A civil wrongful death claim concerns financial damages from the at-fault party, while criminal charges can result in penalties like jail or prison time. There is a higher burden of proof for a criminal case since there is more than money at stake—a person’s freedom is potentially at stake. Because of this, criminal charges require proof beyond all reasonable doubt. On the other hand, a civil claim must only show that there is a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused your accident. A defendant can face civil and criminal charges related to the same death.
What Damages Can I Expect from a Successful Fairbanks Wrongful Death Claim?
Damages in a wrongful death claim are intended to compensate for the financial and emotional losses caused by the person’s death. The damages you may be entitled to receive for a wrongful death claim include the following:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills incurred before the death
- Loss of economic support
- The loss of comfort, care, protection, affection, and companionship the decedent would have provided if they had lived
- Loss of assistance or services the decedent would have provided to their loved ones
- Any loss of inheritance or loss of training and education that the decedent would have provided
Things to know about wrongful death cases in Fairbanks, AK:
- In order to prove wrongful death, it must be proven that the wrongful acts or behaviors were directly involved in the decedent’s injury and death.
- While children may be entitled to compensation for the lost financial support of a deceased father and his loss, a wife would receive monetary support for the loss of love and companionship and a lifetime of expected support. A parent would only recover damages for companionship loss and no support.
The people who may be sued in a wrongful death case are:
- The driver in a car accident is at fault
- The government official who did not post sufficient signage regarding road hazards that caused an accident
- The bartender or vendor who provided alcohol to a drunken person who then drives
- The designer, creator, or distributor of a broken or dangerous part of the vehicle
No amount of compensation will bring your loved ones back, but we believe the burden of funeral expenses shouldn’t fall on you. When someone is admitted into the hospital for some time before the funeral, those heavy medical bills can add an unnecessary financial burden to the already stressful time of your life. Your friends or family members deserve the best, and you shouldn’t let money stop you from sending them on in the most meaningful way. Our goal is to ensure you are involved every step of the way while allowing you to grieve on your terms. We know it’s a deeply personal and familial time for you.
How Long Does a Wrongful Death Claim Take?
A wrongful death claim may take only a few months or much longer—as much as a year or more. Each wrongful death claim is different, with different facts and circumstances. If liability is clear, the case is much simpler and will not take as much time as a case where liability is less clear. The damages you claim will also affect how long the wrongful death claim will take. If the decedent was relatively young—and the primary provider for the family—how much they would have earned in their lifetime will have to be calculated, along with all other economic and non-economic damages. Talk to an experienced Fairbanks wrongful death attorney from Ringstad Law Office to determine how long your wrongful death claim could take.
We are lawyers with vast experience and have helped many Fairbanks citizens through their wrongful death cases. The following story is not your story; it cannot be. After all, each story is different. But maybe it will strike a chord with you:
On your typical drive home, your thoughts consist of the tasks you completed at work, what your kids want for dinner, and what mood your husband will be in after his long day. Today was different. Your hands lead your steering wheel the back way home. You’re off the highways and find yourself at the cemetery where your sister is buried at Northern Lights Legacy Funeral Homes & Memorial Park. You haven’t been here in years. The wounds come back and feel as fresh as they had the day you got the phone call from Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Emergency Department. You heard the four words no one ever wants to hear: “There’s been an accident.”
She was on her way to your house from The University of Alaska, Fairbanks, after her last class. She told you she would stop by the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market to grab some bread for your family dinner. Your family had devised a monthly custom of getting together for dinner and watching the lights from your back porch. That night was supposed to be the clearest of the week, and everyone had precise schedules. Northern Lights Night, the title you so cleverly invented when your sister came up with the idea, was going to be perfect.
Hire a Fairbanks Wrongful Death Attorney Near You
At Ringstad Law Office, P.C., we do not work for big corporations. We do not work for insurance companies. We work for people like the ones in this story. We work for you—Alaskans who have been injured or have lost a loved one due to the careless mistakes of others. We drive to help Fairbanks citizens keep their heads above water when they are fighting for the rights of their lost loved one. We are a local firm that cares deeply about our neighbors. We want to see justice win. With us, your voice will be heard.