A representative of the family member who died will file the wrongful death case. The representative files paperwork with the proper court called a complaint. The complaint alleges all of the wrong things that lead to the death done by the other person or corporation.
You need to speak with an attorney before you file a wrongful death lawsuit. You can file a lawsuit without an attorney in a format called in Pro Per. However, not knowing the rules and having the defense see that you do not have an attorney will make your case significantly less valuable.
A wrongful death lawyer tries to increase the value of the wrongful death case for his client, and the firm. The two focuses for the lawyer are how responsible is the party that caused the death, and how much money should compensate the family for the loss of the loved one.
Most attorneys will take a wrongful death case on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not have to pay the lawyer upfront. The lawyer will take a percentage of the money at the end of the case. This is helpful because then the lawyer and your interests are aligned. You both want the best value of the case possible.
The law office will complete and file the following things:
- Civil Case Cover Sheet
- If they are a minor, paperwork that appoints a guardian ad litem for the minor will need to be filed (minors who are under 18 cannot bring a lawsuit without a guardian)
- If the case is filed in Los Angeles, a civil case coversheet addendum and statement of location will need to be filed.
Each of these items of paperwork has a specific purpose. The most important is the complaint, as it alleges all the wrongdoing and how it leads to the death of the family member.