The death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic and devastating events a person can face. It often has multiple victims in addition to the deceased. When there is a death of a spouse, simultaneously there is often a child, or children, losing their parent. Many times there are parents or siblings alive who suffer, as well.
The wrongful death of a child is, in addition to being life’s most devastating moment, particularly sad because it goes against nature. No parent ever expects to outlive their child; it is against the natural order of events.
When a person is killed through the actions of another, the law requires the responsible person to pay the legal heirs of the deceased for what the law defines as, “the loss of love, society, comfort, care, solace, companionship, and support”. The insurance company for the responsible party is required to pay for these losses. Sadly, even though the death of a person is such a horrible event in the lives of the decedent’s family, insurance companies use some very despicable tactics to minimize or eliminate the payment they owe.
A famous example that was well publicized many years ago occurred following an accident that involved the loss of several lives. The insurance company for the responsible party hired private investigators to go out and investigate the lives of all those people who were killed in the accident. Additionally, the investigators were told to look into the lives of the surviving family members. The purpose of this investigation was to dig up “dirt” on the decedents and their loved ones. The intent was to present evidence that these people were not really loved, they were not good companions, and were not nice people to be around. The same was true for the surviving family members, i.e., to denigrate their character as well. Unfortunately, this most despicable of tactics is common place in any wrongful death action. Character assassination of the decedent and/or the heirs is a favorite tactic employed by insurance companies. The idea that an insurance company would intend to defend a case by showing that the lives of the decedent or the surviving heirs were without value should be repugnant to our society, but unfortunately it is part of the every day business of the insurance industry. Combating this tactic is crucial and there are things that can be done, especially if an attorney representing the surviving family members gets involved at the earliest possible moment. This character assassination needs to be exposed for the outrageous conduct that it is, and an experienced lawyer in wrongful death cases, if given enough time and opportunity, can often minimize or stop it, and in some cases reverse the tactics against the insurance company.
As the surviving family member, you should not be surprised if the insurance company hires a private investigator to follow you around to dig up “dirt” they think they can use against you, and perhaps even make you drop the claim. An experienced Stockton wrongful death attorney will not let that happen.
The loss of financial support that the decedent provides to the surviving family members is a crucial element of any wrongful death case. For example, the death of a forty year old man earning $30,000.00 a year means that there is an anticipated loss of twenty five years of such earnings. Unfortunately, calculating this loss is not simply the act of multiplying $30,000.00 by twenty five years. There are a variety of factors that have to be taken into account in terms of calculating this loss of earnings and financial support to the survivors. It is crucial that a lawyer handling a wrongful death case be experienced and well versed in knowing how to calculate this aspect of the loss, and in anticipating the actions of the insurance company to minimize or eliminate it. Factors such as prior earnings history, future raises, inflation, loss of health insurance and retirement benefits, all have to be taken into account. In the example given in this article of a forty year old man earning $30,000.00 a year, with the resultant loss of twenty five years of earnings, you, reading this article, might assume that the loss of earnings would be twenty five times $30,000.00 for a total earnings loss of $750,000.00! An insurance company however, would be expected to hire investigators and a dishonest economist to substantially reduce this figure. By the time the insurance company and its hired agents were done, it would not at all be surprising to see it claim a so called present value of just a fraction of this $750,000.00. It is imperative that the attorney handling the case be experienced and understand and recognize the tricks that the insurance industry uses to deflate what they owe. Hiring a skilled Stockton wrongful death attorney can help you and your loved ones navigate emotionally trying complexities as these.
Because the stakes are so high in a wrongful death case, insurance companies are often prone to spend large sums of money in looking for ways to evade payment of the money they owe. Because the victim is deceased, and therefore obviously unable to give any testimony, one has to be very concerned that the insurance company will look for ways to offer evidence, which even though false, is difficult to refute because the main witness against such false evidence is deceased. An attorney representing the surviving family members has to be cognizant at all times that the responsible party may suddenly come up with a new story to exonerate themselves, which the insurance company is more than happy to encourage because of the tremendous economic benefit to the company. As is so often the case, the earlier the attorney becomes involved in the case and is able to assess the facts, the better the chance the lawyer will be able to anticipate this problem and gather evidence to stop it.
As sad as it is that in the most devastating of cases, the wrongful death of a loved one, it has to be expected that the insurance company will engage in the most egregious and reprehensible of tactics. Anticipation, recognition, preparation, and counter action by the attorney for the surviving family members is the only real defense to these tactics.
Insufficient compensation to the surviving family members can have a devastating impact on the family. The loss of the economic support from the decedent can doom a middle class family to poverty and a poor family to destitution. It can alter the life course of the surviving family members in ways that one would not ordinarily think of unless asked. Will the surviving children not be able to go to college because of the lack of income? Will the surviving spouse have to obtain employment, change employment, or seek and pay for further education to make up for the lost income? For obvious reasons, surviving family members often do not think of these types of things; they are focused on the loss of their loved one. The legal advice and counsel surviving family members get may often determine how close to normal of a life the surviving family members can return to or achieve.
Do not let the insurance company take advantage of you! Call Stockton wrongful death attorney, Dean F. Cooper. Our law firm has over 35 years of experience in successfully resolving wrongful death claims. Call us today to schedule your FREE consultation. Act now, contact the EXPERT today, it could cost you everything if you delay!
Dean Cooper is a Stockton personal injury attorney. In his more than thirty-five years of representing plaintiffs in personal injury cases, Mr. Cooper has successfully tried and settled countless cases. He has recovered many millions of dollars on behalf of his clients over his career,
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The Cooper Law Firm
Stockton Personal Injury Attorney
2453 Grand Canal Blvd.
Stockton, CA 95207