Wrongful Death

4 Things You Need to Know About Wrongful Death Claims in Arkansas

Each state has its own statutory provisions regarding wrongful death claims.  Those statutes define “wrongful death,” determine who can file the lawsuit, the deadlines that apply, and the types of damages that may be recovered. These are essentially the 4 things your Arkansas wrongful death lawyer will tell you about these types of claims. What is “Wrongful Death?” A wrongful death claim arises when one person dies because of the negligent or intentional conduct of someone else. A wrongful death claim is basically a special type of personal injury claim. The difference is, with personal injury claims, the person who was injured usually brings his or her own lawsuit. In wrongful death cases, the injured person is deceased which means someone else must bring the claim to court. Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? In Arkansas, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only person who can bring the wrongful death lawsuit. If there is no personal representative — for example, if the deceased person is a child who has no estate — then the claim can be filed by the deceased person’s heirs at law. In Arkansas, that would include: The deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings Individuals standing in loco parentis Individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis. In Missouri, those with first priority in bringing a wrongful death claim are the surviving spouse, child or grandchild. In claims that involve the death of a child, the parents can bring the lawsuit.  If none of these options are available, then a surviving sibling would be next in line. The last option is the personal representative, but if no one has been appointed, the court will appoint a “plaintiff ad litem.” Statute of Limitations Period for Wrongful Death Claims The statute of limitations period provides a deadline for a person to file a lawsuit. These statutes vary by state, as well as, by cause of action. The Arkansas wrongful death statute of limitations is one year from the date of the decedent’s death. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is (3) three years from the date of the death. Damages Available in Wrongful Death Claims Arkansas law separates wrongful death claims into two sub-categories: the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim is made by the estate of the deceased, seeking compensation for losses the deceased person suffered as a result of the unexpected death. Typically, these damages will include: funeral and burial costs medical bills for treatment of the deceased person’s last illness or injury pain and suffering the deceased endured before death, and the loss of the value of the deceased person’s remaining life, including wages he or she would likely have earned. The family claim, on the other hand, is made by the surviving family members of the deceased. The family claim seeks compensation for losses the family members suffered, as a result of losing their family member. These damages, paid to the family, include: loss of the financial support of the deceased person loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. Neither of these categories of damages become part of the estate’s taxable assets. Also, damages paid to the family are paid directly to family members, not to the estate. In Missouri, damages for wrongful death are very similar to those allowed in Arkansas. The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek compensation in the form of monetary damages, including the following: funeral and burial expenses medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness value of wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death Also, there are potential damages for the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members. This is similar to the family claim recognized in Arkansas. Proving a Wrongful Death Claim Depending on the case, making the connection between the wrongful conduct and the death can be pretty easy, such as with an auto accident and medical malpractice. However, in other situations, like the use of defective products, the connection may not be discovered without extensive investigation and research. If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury issues, contact the Cottrell Law Office either online or by calling us at (888) 433-4861.

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Wrongful Death

How Much Does a Wrongful Death Attorney Charge?

When asked, how much does a wrongful death attorney charge, the answer is not really that simple. The majority of wrongful death and other personal injury cases are billed on what is referred to as a “contingency fee” basis. This system of payment allows the injured party to hire an attorney without having to pay the cost of legal fees up front. Based on this system, the client does not pay anything initially.  If the lawsuit is resolved successfully, then the attorney would generally be entitled to a percentage of the monetary award, plus expenses. Frequently Asked Questions About Wrongful Death Attorney Fees Below, our experienced Arkansas wrongful death lawyers answer common questions about the attorney fees for wrongful death attorneys. What is a Wrongful Death Contingency Fee Agreement? A contingency fee agreement refers to a payment arrangement where the client does not have to pay any fees up front.  Instead, the client agrees to pay the wrongful death attorney a percentage of the client’s award, should they win the case. The rules governing the practice of law in your state will most likely determine what percentage is appropriate in a contingency fee agreement. What is the Purpose of Contingency Fees? The basic purpose of the contingency fee arrangement is to allow the client to pay little or no upfront costs, and ultimately to pay nothing unless the wrongful death case is won. At that point, the attorney receives a specified percentage of the recovery as a fee. If the case is lost and there is no recovery, the attorney does not receive a legal fee. When are Contingency Fee Agreements Used? Contingency fee agreements are normally used in cases where a plaintiff is seeking money damages for an injury. Depending on the nature of the case and the damages being claimed, attorneys may not always accept a contingency fee arrangement. Some legal claims have limits on how much a plaintiff can recover in damages, in which case an attorney may not be willing to work on a contingency fee basis. Typically, though, wrongful death cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. What to Expect with a Wrongful Death Contingency Fee Agreement After a contingency fee agreement has been reached, the wrongful death attorney pays all of the expenses associated with the lawsuit. These expenses can include filing fees, payment of depositions, and copies of medical records. In many cases, expert witnesses are required to testify, which is another expense that the attorney will pay up front. If the attorney is successful in resolving the case for the client, the written contingency contract will control how the funds are ultimately dispersed. Some contingency fee agreements operate under a graduated percentage contract. Some contingency fee contracts provide for expenses plus a percentage of the recovery. Contact an Experienced Arkansas and Missouri Wrongful Death Lawyer If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305 or send us a message.

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Wrongful Death

Missouri Wrongful Death Cases

It goes without saying that the unexpected death of a loved one is extremely difficult for any family. That loss will undoubtedly take an emotional toll and, most likely, result in a financial burden as well. Deaths caused by the negligence of someone else can be more devastating. The legal claims associated with this situation are referred to as “wrongful death” claims. If your loved one dies as a result of the negligence of another, you may be wondering what your family may be entitled to in terms of compensation.Here is what you need to know. What do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Involve? Wrongful death is a complicated area of law involving both the legal elements of a typical personal injury claim, along with certain state-specific limitations and requirements. For that reason, it is crucial that you consult an attorney with experience and knowledge in this area of the law. It is also important that you act quickly because all wrongful death lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations, which is the time limit for filing your claims in court. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the ” statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years. Because these types of personal injury actions can be rather complicated claims to litigate, often more complex than basic personal injury cases, and typically result in a large damage award, it would be a good idea to consult with your personal injury lawyer. Common Types of Wrongful Death Cases Wrongful death claims, that is claims that arise due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, are most often brought to court when a person is killed in an auto accident, been exposed to toxic poisoning, defective drugs or defective products. If you can find a wrongful death attorney that has substantial experience in the area of personal injury that is involved, your chances of a successful recovery will likely increase. Are the Survivors Entitled to Recover in a Wrongful Death Case? The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas.If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis” (i.e., in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.” In Missouri, on the other hand, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren have first priority to bring a wrongful death claim.The parents of the deceased would be next in line.Usually, when the claim involves the death of a child (minor), the parents will file the wrongful death suit. If none of those individuals have survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the claim. What are Survivors Entitled to in Wrongful Death Cases? In both Arkansas and Missouri, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death.This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state. For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature. What Questions Should I Ask My Personal Injury Lawyer? There are basically two questions you should discuss with your attorney you may be considering retaining to assist with your wrongful death lawsuit. First, what is the extent of their negotiation and litigation experience in wrongful death cases?  Many cases can settle out of court when both sides can successfully negotiate a settlement. This saves you both time and money. Second, what is their history of success in wrongful death litigation? Ask about the wrongful death cases they had that have settled, as well as those that went to trial. Your attorney should have a history of success with litigating wrongful death claims. If you have questions regarding wrongful death claims or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation.You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Wrongful Death

What Damages are Recoverable in Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

The unexpected death of a family member is always devastating, taking an emotional toll on everyone else. When your loved one’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be able to recover for that loss by filing a lawsuit against the party at fault. That type of claim is called “wrongful death.” A question that is frequently asked by clients who have lost a loved one in this way is: what damages are recoverable in wrongful death lawsuits? Here, our experienced wrongful death attorney will explain the different types of damages available in wrongful death claims. The Types of Damages Available Depend on State Law Like all other types of personal injury claims, wrongful death claims are governed by the law of the state where the injury or death occurred. In both Arkansas and Missouri, the decedent’s close family members may bring a wrongful death lawsuit for damages to compensate them for their losses resulting from the decedent’s death. Close family members may receive both economic and non-economic damages in wrongful death lawsuits. Damages Recoverable in Missouri Wrongful Death Lawsuits Every case is different, and the specific damages that can be recovered depend on the circumstances involved. However, Missouri law establishes the different types of damages for which you may recover in wrongful death lawsuits. There are basically two categories of damages available: those related to the deceased and those related to the surviving family members. For example, you may be able to receive reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses and medical expenses that relate to your loved one’s final injury or illness. You may also be able to recover the amount of wages or benefits that your loved one would have earned if he or she had not passed away. Finally, you may recover for any pain and suffering your loved one experienced just prior to their death. As for the survivor’s damages, you may recover the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” your loved one provided to any surviving family members. We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Other Important Facts About Missouri Wrongful Death Damages Depending on the situation, you may be able to recover damages if your loved one provided child care or elder care for someone. In that case, you may recover the value of the care that your loved one can no longer provide. In this situation, you can show that your loved one was not otherwise employed full-time but was taking care of another family member for at least 50% of their time. In Missouri, there is a presumption that the value of this care is 110% of the average weekly wage rate in Missouri. However, this presumption can be challenged depending on the facts. Missouri also places a limit on the amount of non-economic damages (e.g., pain and suffering) that can be recovered in medical malpractice cases. The limit increases annually for inflation and is $761,558 as of 2020 for malpractice resulting in death. Damages Recoverable in Arkansas Wrongful Death Lawsuits Similar to Missouri, Arkansas allows for two categories of wrongful death claims: the estate claim and the family claim. The estate claim involves those losses suffered by the deceased person as a result of his or her death, including funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and the lost value of your loved one’s life. As for the family claim, surviving family members can recover damages such as the loss of the financial support from their loved one, loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. How Wrongful Death Damages Are Handled in Arkansas When damages are awarded in estate claims in Arkansas, the award is not given to the estate, so they do not become part of the taxable assets of the estate. Also, damages awarded in a family claim are paid directly to the surviving family as opposed to the estate. If the family cannot agree on how to divide the award, the court will decide. Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Court? Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court depends on whether you live in Arkansas or Missouri, as each state’s law is different. Arkansas In Arkansas wrongful death cases, only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may bring a wrongful death claim. The personal representative brings the claim on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members. If the decedent did not appoint a personal representative of his or her estate before their death, the court will appoint the personal representative. If the decedent is a child, or the court cannot appoint a personal representative, one of the decedent’s heirs may bring the wrongful death claim. Heirs can include: The decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or siblings; Legal guardians of the decedent; or People for whom the decedent served as a legal guardian. A personal injury lawyer can help you properly file your wrongful death claim in Arkansas. Missouri Conversely, Missouri law creates three classes of individuals who may file wrongful death claims. The first group of individuals includes the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and parents. When the decedent is a child, his or her parents most often bring a wrongful death claim. If none of those individuals survived the decedent, then his or her siblings or their descendants may bring a wrongful death claim. If the decedent has no surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings, then the court will appoint someone to bring the wrongful death claim. Deadlines for Filing Wrongful Death Claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state. The statute of limitations provides the deadline for filing a case. In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is three years. This means that you have three years from the date of the decedent’s death to […]

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Wrongful Death

What You Should Know About Wrongful Death Claims in Rogers, Arkansas

Wrongful death is a complex area of law that involves both the legal elements of typical personal injury claim, as well as, certain state-specific limitations and requirements. Therefore, it is critical that you select a Rogers wrongful death lawyer with sufficient experience and expertise in this area of the law. It is also vital that you act quickly because all wrongful death lawsuits are subject to statutes of limitations, which is the time limit for filing your claims in court. Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents in Arkansas Occur Frequently Very recently, a fatal two-car accident in Rogers on Highway 62 claimed the life of one person and critically injured another, according to the Rogers Fire Department. The accident occurred near the Anderson Gas and Propane Station and the Rogers Executive Airport on highway 62. The two victims were traveling in the same vehicle. The occupants of the other vehicle involved only received minor injuries.In March, a motorcyclist was killed in a two-vehicle accident in northwest Arkansas. The victim was driving his Harley east on U.S. 61 north of Rogers. A Nissan traveling in the opposite direction turned in front of the motorcycle causing the victim to crash into the Nissan. In May, a Rogers resident died in a car accident near Greenland on I-49. The victim was traveling northbound when his car left the road and rolled twice, throwing the victim from the car. Tragic Accident Possibly Caused by Intoxication and Distraction Most recently, a drunk driver caused a fatal accident after running a red light. Witnesses said that the driver of the BMW that caused the accident was arguing on his phone when he drove away from the City Pump and was later seen speeding westbound on W. Walnut Street. The BMW struck the other driver, a resident of Siloam Springs, killing him. Police administered a field sobriety test and determined the driver of the BMW was over the legal limit and he was charged with DWI and negligent homicide. Driving under the influence in Arkansas As our Rogers wrongful death lawyer can explain, in Arkansas 21-year-olds driving with a BAC of 0.08% BAC or higher is considered a DWI. Drivers younger than 21 with a BAC of 0.02% are considered driving while intoxicated.There were more than 10,000 fatalities in 2013, where an involved driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. That was 31% of all traffic fatalities that year. That was one alcohol-impaired fatality every 52 minutes. In 2013, Arkansas reported 483 deaths and Missouri reported 757. Distracted driving in Arkansas Distracted driving is becoming a major concern for highway safety. As the use of cell phones has increased, so has the number of auto accidents involving distracted drivers. In 2013, more than 3,000 people were killed as a result of distracted drivers. Although the campaign to stop texting and driving is in full swing, cell phone use is not the only form of distracted driving.Any activity that diverts a driver’s attention from the primary task of driving is a distraction and endangers the driver, passengers, and others on the roadway. Distractions also include everyday tasks that many of us engage in all the time, such as eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, using a GPS and adjusting the radio or other electronics. Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court? The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas. If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis,” (in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.” If you have questions about your standing to bring a suit, ask our Rogers wrongful death lawyer. What can you recover in wrongful death cases? In Arkansas, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state.  For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature. Deadlines for filing wrongful death claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is commonly referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years.Because wrongful death actions can be rather complicated claims to litigate, often more complex than basic personal injury cases, and typically result in a large damage award, it would be a good idea to consult with your personal injury lawyer.If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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Wrongful Death

Does Your Child's Daycare Use Weighted Blankets to Calm Infants?

Less than two years ago, a tragic event brought to light a hidden danger in daycare centers. It involved a practice that some parents and daycare providers had believed posed no danger at all – the use of weighted blankets to calm infants.  If you or someone you know has a young child in daycare, this is something you should know. A wrongful death case in Missouri On August 21, 2014, in Webster Grove, Missouri, a 7-month-old infant was found dead at his daycare center. He was found in the crib under a weighted blanket. The daycare provider had used a white noise machine, along with the weighted blanket, during the infant’s nap time. The infant rolled onto his stomach at some point and, with the added weight of the blanket (4 pounds 8 ounces), which led to his death.  Unfortunately, the day care workers failed to check on him after he had fallen asleep and, therefore, did not re-position him. What are weighted blankets used for? It is believed by some that weighted blankets are good for calming adults and others with special needs who are anxious or distressed.  These blankets contain items such as flax seed, beans, poly pellets or other items sewn into the fabric. In fact, some health care providers have recommended these types of blankets for adults who have medical conditions such as restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy, night terrors or sleep apnea. Some medical providers encourage the use of these blankets with children, as well, but typically only for children with special needs, and under supervision. Weighted blankets come with warnings In most cases, weighted blankets are prescribed for children with special needs, but there are DIY instructions that anyone can find on the internet.  The problem is, the medical types come with warnings that a DIY blanket obviously would not.  For example, one particular warning states as follows: “Weighted blankets should be used under the direction and advice of a healthcare professional or licensed therapist and should be used while under adult supervision.” The danger posed by weighted blankets When it comes to use with infants, a weighted blanket can be too heavy which can cause the infant to suffocate or increase their risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A medical provider who prescribes a weighted blanket for children will take into consideration the age, height, and weight of the individual so that the weighted blanket being used is appropriate to the size of the individual using it.  The weight distribution of the weighted blanket is also a concern for medical providers.  As seen in the case of this infant, if a weighted blanket is too heavy, an infant can suffocate or can be at a heightened risk to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The responsibility of daycare providers It is certainly reasonable for parents to expect their day care providers to provide reasonable supervision of their children, including when the children are asleep. A day care center must keep infant cribs free of objects that could create a choking or suffocation hazard.  More importantly, day care centers should consult with parents prior to using devices such as a weighted blanket when that item has not actually been prescribed by a medical professional or provided by the parent themselves. Bringing a wrongful death claim in Missouri In legal terms, “wrongful death” means the death of one person caused by the negligence or misconduct of another.  Every state has its own statute that specifically defines the term and also governs wrongful death lawsuits.  Missouri’s Wrongful Death Statute defines wrongful death as follows: The death of a person result[ing] from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof.  Typically, when the claim involves the death of a minor child the parents will have standing to file the wrongful death suit in court. Wrongful Death Damages in a Missouri The purpose of a wrongful death claim is to seek compensation in the form of monetary damages, which are available for various different losses. Some of the more common types of damages may include, especially in the death of a minor: medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death, funeral and burial expenses Basically, the parents of the deceased child are allowed to seek damages on the child’s behalf. If you have questions regarding wrongful death or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Claims in Missouri and Arkansas

One of the hardest challenges any family can face is the death of a loved one.  Yet, when that death is caused by the negligence or misconduct of another, the loss seems even harder to bear.  In those cases, the question that typically arises is: how do we hold that person responsible?  If this has happened to your family, you may have a legal right to bring a lawsuit for “wrongful death.”  A wrongful death lawyer can guide you through the process. Understanding what “wrongful death” means The legal term “wrongful death” is used to refer to the death of someone as a result of the negligence or misconduct of someone else.  Each state has its own statute that defines the term more specifically, and also governs wrongful death claims brought in the courts of that state.  For example, Missouri’s Wrongful Death Statute section 537.080 defines a “wrongful death” as “the death of a person result[ing] from any act, conduct, occurrence, transaction, or circumstance which, if death had not ensued, would have entitled such person to recover damages in respect thereof.”  Arkansas’s legal definition is nearly identical. Who can bring a wrongful death claim in court? The personal representative appointed to handle the estate of the deceased person is required to file the wrongful death claim in Arkansas. If no such person has been appointed, then the claim can be filed by the deceased’s legal heirs, which would typically include the “surviving spouse, children, parents, or siblings; individuals standing “in loco parentis,”(in place of the parent) and individuals to whom the deceased stood in loco parentis.” In Missouri, on the other hand, the surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren have first priority to bring a wrongful death claim. The parents of the deceased would be next in line.  Usually, when the claim involves the death of a child (minor), the parents will file the wrongful death suit.  If none of those individuals have survived the deceased, then a surviving sibling can bring the claim. What can you recovery in wrongful death cases? In both Arkansas and Missouri, the survivors of the deceased are allowed to seek damages on behalf of the deceased, as well as compensation for their own personal losses, as a result of their loved one’s untimely death. This compensation received can help to alleviate medical bills and other expenses that may have been incurred, such as funeral expenses. This is not true in every state.  For example, in Alabama damages in wrongful death cases are purely punitive in nature. Wrongful death damages in a Missouri In Missouri, the goal of a wrongful death claim is to obtain compensation in the form of monetary damages, for the following: funeral and burial expenses medical bills related to the deceased person’s final injury or illness value of wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned pain and suffering experienced by the deceased just prior to death, and the “reasonable value of the services, consortium, companionship, comfort, instruction, guidance, counsel, training, and support” the deceased person provided to surviving family members. Wrongful death damages in Arkansas In Arkansas, damages for wrongful death claims are divided into two categories: the estate claim and the family claim.  The estate claim generally seeks compensation for any losses the deceased person actually suffered as a result of his or her untimely death, including: funeral and burial costs medical bills for treatment of the deceased person’s last illness or injury pain and suffering the deceased endured before death, and the loss of the value of the deceased person’s remaining life, including wages However, the family claim seeks compensation for losses the family members suffered as a result of losing their loved one, including: loss of the financial support of the deceased person loss of household services, and loss of care, comfort, and guidance. Deadlines for filing wrongful death claims Like all other legal claims, there is a deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, which differs from state to state.  This deadline or time limit is common referred to as the “statute of limitations.” In both Missouri and Arkansas, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years. Because wrongful death actions can be rather complicated claims to litigate, often more complex than basic personal injury cases, and typically result in a large damage award, it would be a good idea to consult with a wrongful death lawyer to assist you with your claim. If you have questions regarding wrongful death, or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Wrongful Death Claims Involving Toddlers

Losing a loved one is unquestionably one of the most difficult challenges a family can face. When that death is the result of the negligence or misconduct of someone else, it can be even more difficult. One of the worst scenarios, though, is losing a child.  The surviving family of someone who has died, as the result of a personal injury caused by someone else, has the legal right to file a lawsuit for “wrongful death.” Wrongful death claims involving toddlers are particularly difficult to handle, but an experienced wrongful death attorney can help you through this challenging situation so that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled. What is a wrongful death claim? The legal term “wrongful death” refers to a situation where someone dies as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another. Each state has enacted its own laws governing wrongful death claims. The dependents or beneficiaries of the person who was killed may be entitled to monetary compensation for that person’s death. Wrongful death claims against schools and daycare centers Possibly the most common situation where a wrongful death claim for the death of a toddler or small child will arise is against a school or daycare facility.  When a child’s death occurs on the premises of a school or daycare, the question of liability becomes an issue.  For example, a few years ago, a Montessori school in California was sued for the death of a 3-year-old who choked to death on a pushpin.  The court found in that case that the school should have prevented the toddler’s death by providing appropriate supervision and safety measures. Defective product claims involving the death of toddlers While parents are ultimately responsible for providing safety and supervision of toddlers in the home, there may be situations where a defective or malfunctioning toy, car seat, or other product causes the death of a child.  For instance, defective toys, flammable clothing, and defective products meant for use with children are common sources of injury.  Toy defects can include choking hazards and toxic chemicals.  Other children’s products that can be unsafe if defectively manufactured include bathtubs, rockers, child swings, and bicycles. Deadlines for filing wrongful death claims Like all other legal claims, there is a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit. Each state establishes its own time limits, called the “statute of limitations,” for bringing wrongful death claims. In both Arkansas and Missouri, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action is three (3) years.  Because wrongful death actions are often more complicated than basic personal injury cases, and often result in large damage awards, it is wise to consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine whether you have a claim. If you have unexpectedly lost a toddler, call the Cottrell Law Office at 888-612-0583.

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Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Claim against Long Term Care Facility

A recent jury verdict in New York demonstrates the potential success of a wrongful death claim against long term care facility.  The victim, Edward Gardner, had been admitted to the nursing home for rehabilitation after suffering a heart attack.  Gardner died two weeks later.  His family sued the long term care facility for wrongful death and the jury found the facility guilty. Allegations of nursing home neglect According to Garner’s family, he was not fed properly, he was often left in soiled briefs for hours and allowed to fall from his wheelchair on at least two occasions, during his 14-day stay at the nursing home.  Unfortunately, after his second fall from his wheelchair, he suffered internal bleeding and other complications, requiring his readmission to the hospital, where he later died. Jury awarded $1.13 million to the family for wrongful death Following a trial, the long term care facility was found liable for pain and suffering, deprivation of human dignity, wrongful death and medical expenses in the case brought by Gardner’s family.  The jury awarded a sizeable verdict of $1.13 million. The frightening statistics on nursing home death According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, nearly 25% of deaths each year, in the United States, take place in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Regrettably, most of these deaths are the result of patient neglect and abuse, and therefore, completely avoidable. Common causes of wrongful death in long term care facilities The leading causes of wrongful death in nursing homes include falls, infections, malnutrition and dehydration, assault or physical abuse and medical malpractice.  According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 1,800 people die each year from falls occurring in nursing homes. This is true despite the requirements in most states that a “fall-risk” assessment be conducted for all patients. The most common infections known to cause the death of nursing home and assisted living facility patients include Human Immune Deficiency (HIV), Vancomycin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (VRSA), influenza, sepsis, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Failure to promptly identify, diagnose, and treat infections in patients can result in death. Common forms of nursing home neglect There is no excuse for a patient to become malnourished or dehydrated in a health care facility of any kind.  When it does occur, most often the culprits are apathetic staff.  Whether because of lack of training or lack of empathy, nursing home staff do not assist patients with eating, deny or ignore requests for fluids, and in some cases completely ignore feeding patients.  Another disturbing reality is that assault and physical abuse are rampant in many long term care facilities. Assault and abuse of the elderly is a felony in every state. Medical malpractice claims also occur in nursing home cases Medical malpractice is often observed as the failure to diagnose a patient’s illness properly or the failure to prescribe proper medications.  These failures can severely compromise a patient’s health and result in death. Although medical malpractice is most often associated with hospitals, it also occurs rather frequently in nursing homes. If you have questions regarding nursing home neglect, or any other wrongful death issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Wrongful Death

Can Wrongful Death Lawsuits Settle?

Wrongful death lawsuits can be complex legal matters.  Depending on the cause of death, whether medical malpractice or an auto accident case for example, a thorough investigation is required in order to gather and preserve evidence as quickly as possible. Expert witnesses may be necessary to establish both who was at fault and what actually caused your loved one’s death.  When it comes to proving damages, wrongful death cases can also be more complicated, often requiring experts to calculate future income and other types of damages.  All of these elements will have an effect on whether wrongful death lawsuits settle. What does it mean to settle? Settlement is simply an agreement between parties of a claim or lawsuit to resolve the dispute on their own.  In wrongful death and other personal injury cases, settlement will involve the defendant, or his insurance company, agreeing to pay the victim or family money in exchange for a release from liability.  This means that, once compensation has been paid, the person with the claim can no longer pursue the claim, or must dismiss the lawsuit if it has already been filed.  Nevertheless, a lawsuit can potentially be settled at any point. Some wrongful death claims settle before filing a lawsuit It is not uncommon for a wrongful death claim to settle out of court, before a lawsuit even needs to be filed in court.  When liability is clear cut, often defendants are eager to settle quickly.  For instance, if someone is killed in an auto accident and the police have established that the at-fault driver was drunk and ran a red light, causing the accident, then liability is likely easy to prove.  The insurance company representing the at-fault driver may be willing to settle quickly, because they have little incentive to take the case to trial. When insurance companies are hesitant to settle early There are some situations where an insurance company may be more prone to delay settlement discussions in a wrongful death case.  Whenever responsibility for an accident or injury is not really clear, or when the evidence suggests that the victim may have been partially at fault, the insurance company will feel they have more bargaining room.  Also, when a damages claim looks to be rather substantial, the insurance company may want to hire its own experts to challenge the damages claim. Delaying settlement can be a bargaining tactic In some cases, insurance companies deliberately delay settlement negotiations, hoping that the family will eventually accept a smaller amount rather than continuing to wait for full compensation, which could take months or even years.  Dragging out the negotiations may have the effect of wearing the family down, when all they want is for the case to be resolved. If you have questions regarding injuries, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.  

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