How Manslaughter and Wrongful Death Differs

Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Wrongful Death Attorney

If you feel that someone you love died because of something another party did, then you might just be able to file one wrongful death lawsuit. It is also possible that there is a manslaughter element in your case. Note that both manslaughter and wrongful death lawsuits are possible at once. If a manslaughter lawsuit has resulted in the defendant’s acquittal, then you might still be able to take the other route. First things first, you must understand the definitions of both murder and manslaughter.

What is Manslaughter

Basically, this is the unjustifiable and inexcusable killing of another person without malice, deliberation and premeditation. It can be involuntary or voluntary manslaughter. The latter is an offence, but in contrast to popular belief, it is no less significant form of murder. In fact, the difference between both is that murder should involve “malice afterthought”, while it may be absent in manslaughter. As such, the latter is a relatively less serious offence. However, it is extremely different from justifiable or excusable killing, which entails a much lesser punishment, and at times it carries none at all.

Understanding the distinction between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter is important, and this is also defined by general law. In the case of the former, there was no intent involved to induce serious physical harm or even demise. However, the latter does not entail this intent. If premeditation or deliberation is present, then it becomes a murder case. In many states, the terms “involuntary” and “voluntary” does not exist anymore; rather, they speak of manslaughter of different degrees.

What is Wrongful Death

In contrast to manslaughter, filing a wrongful demise lawsuit is no criminal proceeding, but a civil one. The loved one(s) of the demised person can file it. If you are entitled to do so, then you should rather do it as soon as possible. That is because there is a timeframe within which you have to file the lawsuit, except as otherwise provided by statute. In California, this deadline is two years, but there could be situations where one may be entitled to file it even after the timeframe has passed.

Wrongful death actually comes under the US tort law. The term “tort” refers to a civil wrong. In civil law, tort is a reason for a lawsuit to compensate a party for any injuries or damages suffered.

Death or Injury by Electrocution at a Construction Site

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Electrical accidents rate among the leading causes of injuries caused in construction sites these days. Most fatalities caused this way are shown to have been preventable, if only a person or persons had done their job properly. That means they failed to follow the OSHA regulations in place regarding electrical safety.

An attorney handling a case of this sort could help injured workers legally pursue and secure the compensation they are owed. An electrocution lawsuit, if litigated sufficiently well, can win the victims enough restitution to cover their losses in the way of medical expenses, loss of future earnings, lost wages, etc., by proving beyond doubt that the defendant was responsible for these losses.

Electrocution Happening on Construction Sites

Electrocution ranks fourth among occupational injury death causes in the country. Millions of construction workers die every year as a result of malfunctioning equipment, faulty power lines, and underground wires. Such deaths also constitute a significant portion of the ones occurring at construction sites, with research showing “live” wiring and electrical machinery as the main culprit in over half of the cases.

It stands to reason that such situations, and consequent injury or death, could have been avoided by properly locking out or de-energizing equipment and circuits before work began. A competent wrongful death attorney would work to ensure that victims or their survivors receive their just entitlements under state law.

Electrical Injury Types

As per the classification put forward by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, electrical injuries can be classified into the following four types.

  • Electrical Burns:In this type of injury, the current burns the victim’s tissue while coursing through their body
  • Falls Resulting From Electric Shock: When a person loses muscle control from an electric shock or an explosion, and this results in them falling from platforms
  • Electrical Shock: Current of strength as low as 50 volts can result in muscle spasms capable of stopping a person’s heart, and temporarily halting breathing
  • Fatal Electrocution – An electrical injury of such severity that it brings about multi-organ failure as well as, in some cases, death.

Electrocution Deaths at a Construction Site

  • Electrocution figures inside the “fatal four” when it concerns workers in the construction industry. It causes over half of the worker deaths that occur in the country.
  • Live machinery and wiring, and electrical sources, have almost consistently landed among the top OSHA violations cited.
  • Since construction workers normally come in contact with energized equipment and sources a lot, there is constant danger of electrocution which needs to be factored in.

Causes of Electrocution at a Construction Site

Of the OSHA violations cited with regard to construction sites, improper electrical equipment and circuitry grounding is one of the most common ones. The following factors have been shown to majorly play into construction electrocution deaths.

  • Lack of fault circuit interrupters
  • Shock caused by underground power lines
  • Direct contact with power lines running overhead
  • Touching a live power source, lighting fixture, or transformers
  • Improperly installed electrical wiring and equipment
  • Touching live parts on machinery or appliances
  • Touching exposed conductors
  • Being exposed to faulty equipment

There has been some progress with regard to reducing the number of electrocutions that occur on construction sites, but significant additional efforts are required to make sure no one gets injured.

The Long-Term Effects

A lot of constructions workers who sustain electrical shock or burns are forced to see their quality of life decline after the fact. Many find it impossible to earn at the same income level, and consequently, to support their families. Several irreversible problems such as loss of hearing and vision, nerve damage, brain injury, cardiovascular problems, etc., fall into the list of long-term consequences resulting from an electrical injury. The following factors often determine how severe said injury would be.

  • Voltage level of the current
  • The amount of time for which the worker was in contact with the current
  • Whether or not there was conductive moisture present on the person’s body, or in the environment
  • The injured person’s current heart cycle at the time of the incident

Many construction site electrocution incidents are followed by the injured worker suing the company or an employee for compensation, which covers their medical expenses as well as loss of income. Investigations may be conducted from the premises liability perspective, and legal action can be taken based on that. The employer is legally required to reduce hazards using means such as maintenance, proper training, inspections, and replacements.

Workers who are injured while working would be eligible to pursue and win significant compensation. In the case of shock-induced death, the family of the victim can bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the company, and if they win, get awarded compensation seen as sufficient by the court.

Right to a Civil Jury under California Law vs. Federal Law

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In California, both federal and state laws may apply when it comes to wrongful death cases. Parties in litigation have the right to a civil jury when a case has arisen at common law, and when statute provides a jury. Neither cases at equity, nor those without common law analogy, etc.) require a jury under either system.

The federal legal system assigns more importance to the right to a jury, owing to a peculiarity in how Federal Constitutional Law evolved. This right is included in the Bill of Rights, which was sanctioned in 1791, and initially restricted the federal government alone. At the onset, there was no guarantee of individual states being bound in this regard. Following the Civil War and the ratification of the 14th Amendment, Bill of Rights protections were incorporated by the Supreme Court, and applied against all states. However, these do not include the right to having a civil jury preside over your case. In many circumstances, California courts have a lot of room to exclude juries altogether.

When a lawsuit comes to federal court, and concerns both common law claims and equitable claims, the court is not allowed to decide the latter in a way that limits the former. Legal claims will first need to be presented to the jury, and the judge decides the remaining claims. When an equitable issue infringes on a jury-triable claim, the judge is not allowed to decide the former. This system holds the right to a jury remains as an overriding interest.

California case law has the opposite goal, and holds a strong preference for placing equitable claims in trial to a judge, before a jury has chance to preside. Efficiency is the main objective here. After an equitable cause of action has been decided, the judge then moves on to decide issues that overlie jury-triable claims. This is something they can do which a federal judge cannot, and it often narrows or eliminates issues, which would otherwise have passed to the jury.

Even something as apparently trivial as failing to announce a jury requirement can deprive you of the chance to achieve maximum compensation. Having a competent wrongful death attorney on your side can be instrumental in ensuring you do not accidentally waive your right to a jury in a civil action.

Types of Damages Generally Granted in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

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Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Every wrongful death case in the US is different, and there are numerous factors, that could possibly dictate each case’s value. The following are the general types of damages one could seek in a case of wrongful death.

Medical Bills

In several wrongful death cases, it is likely the decedent spent many days in the hospital or even longer, undergoing surgeries and getting treatment. He or she may have got emergency transportation as well as other treatments. Often, these bills add up and place a lot of financial stress upon the surviving family members. These economic damages could be claimed by one of them, who is entitled to do so, in a wrongful death suit.

Funeral and Burial Expenses

The costs relating to both funeral and burial could possibly be very high and even amount to thousands of dollars. They are also economic damages survivors of deceased people can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit.

Loss of Income

This is another essential aspect of the damages. In order to determine their right amount, the deceased person’s anticipated income (had the person lived) has to be calculated. His or her health and life expectancy, alongside inflation, are some of the elements that have to be taken into account. This category could include loss of benefits besides wages like healthcare, retirement benefits, pensions, as well as social security income.

Loss of Care

If the deceased was actually a “stay-at-home” parent, then the survivors could get compensation for the burden of financial nature the loss of that person would put upon the family. In addition, costs of housekeeping, childcare, as well as other domestic services sought could be comprised in this category.

Pain and Suffering

This type of damages could be awarded in significant wrongful death cases. They are intended to compensate for survivors’ pain and suffering following their loved one’s passing away. This one falls under the non-economic damages category. Any of the experienced wrongful death lawyers will surely be able to calculate damages such as these.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are granted in wrongful death cases where the kind of negligence upon the defendant’s part was particularly egregious. They are often granted in those arising from defective products where their manufacturer knew it was either dangerous or faulty, but failed to recall them all from the market or warn consumers of the dangers thereof.

The Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought in the event of a person’s death, which resulted from negligence or recklessness on the part of the defendant. It can be brought by a surviving family member, or even someone who used to be a life partner on a “civil union” basis. If a loved one dies of a natural cause, his or her family would have tremendous grief and loss to deal with. A wrongful death is even worse, because it brings home the fact that the death could have been avoided, if only the at-fault party had done their duty. In many cases, the bereaved are also deprived of primary financial support, because the decedent used to be a major provider.

Any family in such a situation has significant legal rights, one of them being the eligibility to pursue compensation from a supposed wrongdoer. If they have a competent wrongful death attorney representing them, and manage to prove the defendant’s fault, they would also be able to gain compensation for the losses caused by the latter’s transgression. This brings them justice and closure, so that they can finally move on.

Elements of the Lawsuit

In cases where a loved one’s death is caused by another person’s misconduct, one can end up losing the love and affection, physical support, financial support, etc. When claiming compensation in court, they would need to bear in mind that the court would examine the following elements of the wrongful death lawsuit.

  • Did the defendant’s negligence or willfulness cause the passing, or did something else? This is called causation. If the defendant cannot be shown to have acted in a way, which irrefutably caused the death, then the case falls apart. For example, suppose a person dies of cancer; his or her family could not sue the hospital or doctor if they treated the patient according to established guideline. However, any caretaker who exposed the decedent to bad drugs, radiation, etc., could be proven legally responsible for their death. If they intended harm, the deed would be recognized as a wrongful act; if they were careless, it would fall under negligence. Either way, the wrongful death lawsuit would hinge on being able to prove their involvement in the act.
  • Was the damage caused intentional or negligent? This has bearing on how kindly the jury looks on the defendant. While the outcome remains the same, it matters if the accused knew what they were doing at the time. For instance, shooting someone point blank is a blatantly willful act. If it ends the latter’s life, you get punished for it, and usually more heavily. A negligent act, in contrast, is one where the victim’s death is not pre-meditated. One example is rear-ending someone into cross-lane traffic and causing his or her death. Here, if proven guilty, the defendant would be charged with a “Reckless Act”, and punishment might be mitigated.
  • Did the survivor(s) suffer a loss? This is important for the court to know, since a lot of families exist with estranged relations. A wrongful death claim needs to prove one or more of the following losses from the survivor’s side: love, physical support, and financial support. Loss of love covers begin deprived of affection, sexual gratification, or other things. Loss of financial support is more easily proven – the decedent may have earned and provided a substantial amount to the survivor before their death, or contributed to a fund of which the latter was a beneficiary, and this proverbial well has now dried up, owing to the defendant’s actions. Physical support falls under everything the decedent used to do for their survivor(s), who now have to do without it.

Under CA Law

In California, every would-be wrongful death plaintiff is required by the statute of limitations, to file their legal action inside a two-year time limit. The court would require evidence, which proves that the accused was negligent or reckless, and that their conduct caused the death in question. Any family member or legal partner left behind by the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in court. If the plaintiff is a minor, he or she can have it filed by a guardian or parent. The court would require proof of monetary damages.

Pursuing a Negligent Killing Claim

The main thing that needs to be done here is proving the elements mentioned above. A survivor must prove that they have suffered or will suffer a financial loss due to the decedent’s passing, such as funeral, medical, and burial costs. Lost supporting income and potential inheritance are major factors as well. On top of that, emotional losses including love and affection would need to be proven beyond doubt.

How Property Fire Occurs and Who Can Be Held Liable for it

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Wrongful Death Laws

Losing a loved one due to any circumstance is a difficult thing to face. Investigating the details of what or who may have actually contributed to the deadly fire in California can be even more stressful and emotional. Therefore, you have to consult with an experienced attorney if you are thinking about filing a wrongful death claim following a fire. An attorney is an objective third party who can help determine who is legally responsible for your loss.

Some Reasons Why Fire Can Become Deadly

  • Malfunction of Heating Equipment: Gas leaks can go simply unnoticed for days, resulting in an explosive gas buildup in the area. Besides, boiler rooms that deteriorate can blow if they are not serviced properly.
  • Electrical Malfunction: Faulty or old wiring can trigger a potentially deadly fire in a matter of moments. Electrical circuits that are poorly maintained can contribute to fire caused by the malfunctions too.
  • Unattended Fires: Unattended candles, for instance, can cause it in an instant. The flames of the candle can lap against your curtains, growing quickly into an inferno, and possibly leading to severe injury or demise. Any unattended fire, even a smoldering cigarette for that matter, can be potentially dangerous. It is essential to be conscious of your surroundings all the time and never leave flames unattended.

Parties Who May Be Legally Responsible for Wrongful Death Claim

  • Product Manufacturer:Businesses that make unsafe appliances as well as other products can be legally responsible in the claim. There are wrongful death lawyers who research technologies as well as reports in order to determine whether a product maker can be held liable.
  • Property Owner: Obviously, a property owner is responsible for making sure that there are fire extinguishers as well as smoke detectors in a working condition. Plus, the owner of a private or business property has to monitor fire safety codes, maintain its alarm systems, and install adequate signage for warning visitors of the risks of fire. If he or she fails to do so, and a fatal domestic fire results, the owner of the property may be liable.
  • Contractor: The law of California regulates construction standards. Therefore, if the infrastructure is maintained poorly – or poor architectural design – is to blame for accident that results in an injury or wrongful fatal death, the builder in question may be held legally responsible.

How to Pursue a Civil Case if the Defendant Dies Before Trial

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Wrongful death cases

Wrongful death cases get extremely complicated if the defendant passes away before the trial begins. This event is common in car accidents where the driver who caused the accident was also fatally injured. It is commonly noticed that people tend to assume that it is impossible to claim the rightful compensation if the defendant passes away. This is not true. Although it may be a time consuming and tedious process, it is very much possible to establish claims to compensation that you deserve. Expert wrongful death lawyers will be able to get the job done very easily.

Suing a Deceased Defendant

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to file a lawsuit against a deceased person. However, ensure that your lawsuit comes within the framework of the statute of limitations. This is, in a way, the deadline to file such a claim. This will also help maintain the record of the lawsuit. You may not be able to file the lawsuit once the statute of limitations expires. In the majority of instances, the statute of limitations for wrongful death cases is two years in California.

There are laws that allow plaintiffs to file a lawsuit against the estate of the defendant who passed away. If the case succeeds, you may be able to collect your compensation from the defendant’s auto insurance company. In case the compensation provided was satisfactory, you need to take no further action. On the other hand, if the compensation is below the required level, you need to further seek the compensation. This can be obtained either from the individual’s collectible assets or from the individual’s estate.

It is mentioned in the California Probate Code Sections 550 and 552 states that any action planned by the plaintiff seeking recovery should be filed against the insurer of the deceased person. After this, a lawsuit is then carried out on the insurer and further pursued against the insurance carrier. According to Probate Code 551, it is possible to file a lawsuit against the entity within one year of the statute of limitations expires.

If the person tends to miss out on it, the plaintiff can get a year extra to file a lawsuit. This is also known as a “grace period”. The Probate Code Section 377.42 says that the plaintiff can recover all damages incurred when a wrongful death lawsuit is filed in opposition to the estate of a decedent.

Difference between Wrongful Death Suit and Workers’ Compensation

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Wrongful Death Suit

Workers’ compensation is designed to give financial benefits to an employee who is injured when on the job. This also applies if an employee dies when on the job and provides financial aid to his/her dependents.

Several people do not realize is that it is designed to protect people from being sued for inquiries or deaths related to a job – even if an employer was negligent or employer contributed to a hazardous workplace environment. This means that even if a company violated safety standards, like those set by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it is still protected by the workers’ compensation laws.

At the same time, if a third party caused the workplace death, the surviving family may be able to file the wrongful death lawsuit against that party, but not the employer. That third party can be a contractor or faulty equipment’s manufacturer.

To file the wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving members have to prove that:

  • Their loved one passed away owing to the negligence of someone else.
  • The family suffered harm due to the demise of their loved one, like lost earning capacity or income, and/or intangible loses like pain and suffering, lost partnership, decreased quality of life, and so forth.

Compensation for losses that are intangible is part of what makes the wrongful death claim different in comparison – workers’ compensation does not give benefits for these things. The surviving family can often recover more through a wrongful death lawsuit than through workers’ compensation.

Wrongful death benefits can comprise:

  • Medical as well as other injuries, plus demise-related expenses the person and his or her surviving family incurred from the negligent act’s moment until the demise.
  • Funeral as well as burial expenses incurred.
  • Lost wages that would have been obtained by the deceased individual until his or her retirement.
  • Loss of care, assistance, services, and other benefits given by the deceased.
  • Other damages like pain and suffering.

In California, there is a two-year deadline to file the lawsuit from the date of the demise. This is called the “statute of limitations”. (Note that the claims in the state are not limited to wrongful death incidents happened due to workplace negligence.)

Pros and Cons to Filing the Claims

Workers’ Compensation: One of the action’s main benefits is there is no necessity to prove negligence of your loved one contributed to her or his demise; collecting benefits is considered as easy a task as filing the claim. The major downside is that you drop your right to sue the at-fault employer for damages by filing it; there are no benefits for intangible losses and death benefits for this are capped at a predetermined figure.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit: The major benefit of filing this is the greater compensation potential, comprising benefits for your intangible losses; plus, wrongful demise suits that comprise punitive damage grants can help deter misconduct in the future, as well as there are no damage limits. The main downside to filing the suit is that it can take a long time to get the settlement amount.

If you have lost your family member due to a workplace accident, consult the matter with an attorney. An experienced professional can help you recover as much as possible from workers’ compensation and help you realize whether the wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in LA

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Wrongful Death Claim

The death of a loved one can be a very difficult thing to cope up with, and if it is a wrongful death, it can become even more painful. It is really horrible to have someone you love taken away from you, that too due to the negligence of others.

Nothing can truly make up for your loss, but a wrongful death attorney can help you get compensation for your loss from the parties who are responsible for the accident. While there can be no true compensation for your loss, the financial compensation can still be used to pay off the bills, debts, and to make the days ahead a bit better.

Wrongful Death Claims LA

There is a time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit, and this is one of the things, which many people do not know. It is really awful when a loved one has departed before time. However, it would compound it to allow the statute of limitations run out before you file the wrongful death case. It might be really difficult for you to reach out to an attorney to file the case at once, but many death attorney LA offices offer free consultations, which can help to make the difficult process easier.

It is important to keep in mind that the insurance agents and the company might seem like they can be trusted, but in reality, you should never trust them. No matter how kind or warm the insurance company and their agents may appear, you should always keep in mind that they are talking on behalf of the defendant and not you. They will be concerned about the insurance firm and not you.

You should also understand that the insurance firm makes money by not paying the claims to people like you. This is the reason why you should not sign anything from the insurance firm without consulting with your wrongful death attorney. It might seem to be a good deal to you, but it will never be.

Your lawyer can help you fight back, instead of allowing the insurance firm to get away by offering you much less money than you deserve. In the case of wrongful death claim, there can be many different types of losses that you can be compensated for. Your wrongful death attorney will be able to ensure that you are rightly compensated for the loss. Of course, the loss of companionship and love can never be compensated for and these damages are limitless, meaning that the punitive damages are really high for them.

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For most of us, when we lose a loved one in a wrongful death, we also lose an important financial provider. If the loved one whom you lost helped to provide for you financially, then your wrongful death attorney would help you get compensations for that as well. The damages for your loss include the lost wages that you have suffered since the passing away of the loved one. In addition, these damages would also include what your loved one would have made in the years to come.

You might have counted on the money that your love one would have earned for, say, while buying the house. This as well as the financial support offered by your loved one can also be included in the damages to be addressed in the lawsuit.

Accident Death Attorney

In case of wrongful death, you can also claim for all the suffering and pain, which is commonly done in such claims. Yet another wrongful death damage you can include is “loss of guidance and care”. When you lose the guidance of a loved one, who has cared for you, you are eligible to get compensation to make up for the loss of care and guidance. Besides, paying for the funeral and burial of your loved one can also be expensive. As these expenses are something you would not have paid for if there were not any wrongful death, you can claim for these expenses also.

Wrongful death can be of varying forms. This is the reason it is important for you to hire a wrongful death attorney to file the case for you. Some of the wrongful death cases happen via medical malpractice, others through motorcycle accidents, car accidents, bicycle accidents, and many more reasons. No matter what the type of your loved one’s wrongful death is, it is imperative to get help from an attorney to proceed with the case.

Remember that it is very difficult to take on an insurance company in a wrongful death case, as the company will be having many resources and can summon these resources to deal with the case whenever necessary. Therefore, it is important for you to hire a wrongful death attorney LA who is efficient and experienced in handling such lawsuits. You may also seek help of a law firm, which has the resources to match that of the insurance firm.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit and When

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Wrongful Death Lawsuit

For an uninitiated, a wrongful death lawsuit is filed when one dies due to another person or entity’s wrongful act or negligence. It is one of the civil lawsuits, brought to the court of law by survivors of the deceased or personal representative of the person. A fault is solely expressed in terms of financial damages, which the court orders the defendant to pay to the survivors of the decedent (assuming the lawsuit in question is successful).

It differs from criminal cases for homicides, which are brought by the US state, and wherein guilt is penalized with jail time, probation, as well as other methods. In fact, the family of the deceased may bring civil wrongful death claim to the court of law even in case a criminal case is already going forward.

In California, only certain individuals or parties are permitted to file wrongful death lawsuit. The statute particularly lets the below-mentioned parties bring wrongful death claim.

  • Surviving spouse of the deceased individual
  • The deceased person’s domestic partner
  • The decedent’s surviving kids

In case there is no surviving individual in the person’s current line of descent, a wrongful death case may be brought to anybody “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”, which can comprise the deceased’s parents or siblings, depending upon who is living at the time of his or her passing away.

Besides, in case they can show that they were financially dependent upon the decedent, the below-mentioned parties can bring the lawsuit in CA.

  • The deceased’s “putative spouse” as well as putative spouse’s kids
  • The person’s stepchildren
  • The decedent’s parents

When to File a Wrongful Death Claim in California

Like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim in the state has to be filed inside a specific period of time, which in legalese is referred to as “statute of limitations”. The state statute necessitates the claim to be filed inside two years of the passing away date. In case the case is not filed in its civil court system inside the stipulated time period, the family will nearly certainly lose the right to do it at all.

You can consider hiring a wrongful death attorney sooner rather than later so that the professional can fight in the court on your behalf and recover as many damages as possible.