Most lawyers can handle car wreck cases, few lawyers can properly handle wrongful death cases. Make sure that you hire a lawyer who has litigated wrongful death cases before, and ideally has tried these cases in front of juries. First, wrongful death cases require getting the estate set up and working through any family issues. It is surprising how many times there are conflicts among heirs. Now is not the time to air dirty laundry, and it is not about who was the favorite child, it is all about the death of a parent or loved one. If the defense can exploit a break among family, they will do it.
Second, wrongful death cases require thorough case development. The life expectancy should be established by reviewing prior medical records, talking to family and physicians, and possibly hiring an expert. Also, causation will need to be proven, as many times death cases are multi-factoral. For example, an elderly person gets in a bad wreck, goes into surgery, but dies under anesthesia. What was the cause of death? Anesthesia most likely. What was the real underlying proximate cause? The car wreck.
Third, full litigation is almost always necessary. Your attorney should take the depositions of any potential defendants and/or payor sources. In wrongful death cases, the amount of insurance involved may not be enough. You will need to look hard for other sources of coverage such as UIM and a potential employer or agent of the defendant.
Wrongful death attorneys and lawyers have the experience to develop cases properly. Regardless of who you hire, ask them if they have handled these cases for the plaintiff, how many, what results, and have you taken any to trial. Be careful, as I have also seen a large increase in the number of defense attorneys advertising for these types of cases. Defense lawyers are very good lawyers, but they simply have an opposite mindset for what is needed. Most of them just don’t turn off their real jobs and the suddenly become concerned for the well-being of others. It is too hard to wear two hats.