Omaha personal injury attorneyWrongful death happens far too often.  Defective products, dangerous environments, negligent drivers, and uncaring property owners may be responsible for preventable accidents leading to death.  If you have suffered the loss of a loved one to any type of accident, from a car collision to property accidents, its important to contact a competent Omaha wrongful death attorney immediately.

Abraham Lincoln once wrote a letter to a young girl suffering intense grief from her father’s passing.  He wrote: “In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all…perfect relief is not possible, except with time.”

His prose is timeless. It’s somehow comforting to realize that others who lose someone dear feel the same grief, and as time passes, the sorrow will ease.

Moving on from the loss of a loved one who passes of natural causes is never easy, but when a spouse or family member is wrongfully or negligently killed because of the actions of another, it can be devastating.

These cases are no doubt difficult for everyone affected, and the attorneys at Steffens Law Offices in Omaha are here to guide you through this, the most difficult time your family may ever confront.  You shouldn’t have to do it alone.  We are competent advocates with the experience and compassion to assist you in obtaining full compensation for your family.

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Table of Contents:

What is Wrongful Death?

Wrongful Death is a legal term in civil tort law that ensures surviving family members can obtain monetary compensation for the wrongful death of a spouse or family member.  In Nebraska, a civil lawsuit or claim may be maintained against the responsible person or company whenever a death results from negligent or wrongful actions.

Wrongful death is not a criminal matter, and there is no prosecutor.  Wrongful death claims can be made regardless of whether a crime was committed.  Instead, the attorney for the surviving family member files a claim against the responsible person or company and seeks financial compensation in the form of monetary damages.  Usually, however, the attorney is dealing with the responsible party’s insurance company, and a lawsuit is not necessary.  Rather, a demand is made and negotiations between the attorney and insurance company continue until an out of court settlement is reached which fairly compensates the surviving family members and avoids the cost, delay, and uncertainty of a trial.  The types of damages which are available in a wrongful death claim can include funeral expenses, financial support, and loss of companionship.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Omaha?

In Nebraska, a personal representative may maintain a claim for wrongful death for the exclusive benefit of the deceased person’s spouse or next of kin.  A spouse is a surviving wife or husband, and the next of kin is usually the surviving children or parents of the deceased person.

If a lawsuit must be filed, the personal representative is appointed by the appropriate court and asserts the claim before a judge or jury on behalf of the widow, widower or next of kin.  Usually, a petition is filed with the court asking permission for a person to be appointed as a personal representative.

More often, however, a surviving spouse or immediate family member of the wrongfully killed victim, through their attorney, makes a claim against the at-fault person or company’s insurance company.  The claim, just like in court, seeks pecuniary damages, which is a legal term that simply means financial compensation from the responsible person’s insurance company.  If the responsible person has no insurance but has assets and the financial ability to pay a sufficient settlement, the surviving family’s attorney will usually assert the claim against the at-fault person or company directly.

How is Wrongful Death Proven?

The surviving family, through their attorney, must prove that their loved one died because of negligence.  Negligence has four basic elements.  If each element is proved sufficiently, then the at-fault person or company will be held liable for the damages.

Duty:  The person or company responsible for your loved one’s death owed a duty of reasonable care to avoid actions that unreasonably lead to the death of another.  The duty of care owed depends on the specific circumstances of the situation.

Breach: When the facts or circumstances of the situation demonstrate that the at-fault person or company did not comply with their duty and thus acted unreasonably, this element is met.

Causation: If the at-fault person or company’s unreasonable actions caused the death of your loved one, then this element is met and thus negligence is proved.    

Harm: Once negligence is proved, the final element which must be met is harm.  This means that the at-fault person or company’s negligent actions or conduct caused the death and that death led to a financial loss which may be compensable at law. This is shown by providing evidence in the form of funeral expenses, property damage, hospital bills, lost income, and other expenses related to the death of your loved one.

Often, wrongful death claims are incredibly complex, and many thousands of dollars are at stake.  The responsible person or company’s insurance company will absolutely seek to avoid paying you compensation and will take every action at its disposal for this purpose.  Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and most people don’t realize that the only way insurance companies stay profitable is by avoiding the payment of claims, even when it’s to a family who lost someone they love because of negligence.

[Related: Why You Shouldn't Talk to the Other Party's Insurance on Your Own]

Therefore, it is vitally important to choose an experienced and proven wrongful death attorney in Omaha to represent you when asserting a wrongful death claim: the attorney will discover facts and evidence and apply each to the law to make the strongest case for your financial recovery.  If the argument is strong enough, the responsible person or company’s insurance company seeks to avoid a trial and thus will agree to negotiate a financial settlement that fully compensates the surviving family for what they have lost.

How Can an Omaha Wrongful Death Attorney Help?

Losing a family member through the negligence or recklessness of another is the worst nightmare imaginable.  Yet it happens every day, and we exist to help you with all aspects of the process to hold those responsible accountable.  Choosing the right law firm in Omaha to assist your family in this endeavor can make all the difference.  Our Omaha wrongful death lawyer at Steffens Law Offices fights for families to receive justice from those responsible.  Our team will investigate the accident, determine who is at fault, collect evidence, make the strongest and most appropriate arguments, prove your losses, and negotiate a fair and just outcome for your family which will allow you to grieve and begin to heal.

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The Types of Claims Our Wrongful Death Lawyers Handle

Auto Accidents: Probably the most frequent cause of wrongful death in Nebraska and specifically Omaha, car collisions and truck accidents causing death almost certainly will involve insurance companies.  These may seem easy to prove, but it’s important to understand that when insurance companies get involved, it’s more important than ever to hire an experienced legal team to represent your interests.

Property Accidents:  When a person dies as the result of a dangerous condition on another person or company’s land, this is known as premises liability.  Slipping on ice, falling downstairs, drowning in a pool or other body of water, ranch or farm animals, and other innumerable causes may lead to a person’s completely preventable death.  Here, too, are complex issues where an experienced attorney and legal team will be best able to navigate toward the result of holding the responsible party financially accountable for your losses.

Product Liability: Sometimes products contain defects in their instructions, manufacture, or warnings which may lead to a person’s preventable and unnecessary harm or death.  The manufacturers of these products will usually have their own legal defense team or insurance company which will do everything in its power to avoid paying compensation, whether moral, ethical, or otherwise.  The nature of these types of cases is complicated, and specific laws apply that a regular attorney or law firm may not be able to appreciate.  In these situations, it’s vital to contact a legal team familiar with the nuances of product’s liability law and how to obtain full compensation from the responsible company.

Motorcycle Accidents:  Riders of motorcycles who are hit or become injured because of the negligence of another driver often suffer severe injury or death.  This is because the nature of riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than driving a car for several reasons.  The attorney you choose should have extensive experience representing motorcycle injury victims, and ideally, should have team members who ride and understand the dangers, culture, and experience of what motorcycle riding really means.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Nebraska?

Omaha, and Nebraska in general, has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death actions.  This simply means that the surviving family has two years from the date of the accident which causes death to bring a civil action against the responsible party for financial compensation, or they lose the ability forever.  Our experienced Omaha wrongful death attorney and legal team can properly advise you in this regard and will ensure that all appropriate deadlines are met.

How is Compensation Calculated in a Wrongful Death Case

Contact Our Omaha Wrongful Death Attorney for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

At Steffens Law Offices, our attorneys will treat you like family.  We live to help those who need us.  Our clients come to us from all over Nebraska.  We understand that most accidents resulting in death are preventable and that justice means obtaining financial compensation for those family members left behind.  We exist to hold those responsible for your loss and won’t rest until your family is made whole. 

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If you have suffered the loss of a spouse or family member through the wrongful actions of another, call us today and speak with our experienced Omaha wrongful death attorney for free.

William V. Steffens
Nebraska Personal Injury & Bankruptcy Attorney With 34+ Years Of Experience