Losing a loved one suddenly in a tragic accident can be a horrific, world-shattering experience. It’s such a painful concept that few people discuss what occurs at the scene after a death, what loved ones can anticipate happening if an insurance claim or lawsuit is brought forward, and how to cope. This leaves many grieving people without direction immediately after and in the days following the accident.
Here’s what you should know about what happens at a death investigation scene, what a wrongful death law firm can do to help your family after losing a loved one, and what to expect if you file a wrongful death suit.
The Scene Will Be Secured
Initially, the scene of the incident will be secured. Your loved one will likely be left in situ for investigators, meaning that they will not be moved and the scene of the accident will be preserved for proper investigation.
Law Enforcement and Other Professionals Will Be Contacted
Immediately after being made aware of the incident, nearby people will contact law enforcement, who will then contact death investigation professionals once it’s been confirmed that the person in the incident has passed away.
In the case of a car accident, it may be the other driver who calls 911. Coworkers or a supervisor may contact emergency authorities if a deadly accident occurs at work, and nursing homes may simply contact the coroner in an attempt to avoid a proper death investigation.
You May Not Be Able to See Your Loved One
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you will be able to see your loved one at the scene of the incident unless you were already there or arrive and manage to bypass law enforcement. While in a state of shock, you likely won’t be able to think clearly and your first instinct may be to run to your loved one, touch them, or move them.
These actions can compromise the integrity of the accident scene, potentially even costing you the justice of your loved one if evidence is contaminated. The police at the scene may escort you away to protect the scene from becoming disrupted.
All Evidence Will Be Logged, Including Photographs
During the investigation of the accident scene, the collection of evidence will take place. Each piece of evidence will be logged and photographs will be taken of your loved one before they are moved so death investigators can see your loved one in situ as they continue to work on the case after your loved one has been laid to rest.
Generally speaking, these photographs are not something you have to see and you may not be allowed to even if you were to ask. However, if you do bring forward a wrongful death case, these photographs may be displayed during settlement negotiations or trial, which may be quite jarring.
Your Loved One May Be Taken to a Hospital
Even if your loved one passed away at the scene of the accident, they may still be taken to the hospital to be legally pronounced deceased and for records regarding the injuries and accident to be created.
You may be asked to come to the hospital to speak with doctors regarding your loved one’s passing or to confirm their identity. This may be the first time you get to see your loved one after the incident.
Your Loved One Will Finally Be Transported to a Funeral Home
In some cases, a person who has already died may not be taken to a hospital. A coroner may be called, who will come examine the body of the deceased and determine a time and preliminary cause of death. Then, the coroner will transport the body directly to the funeral home, bypassing the hospital altogether. Or, the coroner may be called after the hospital has completed their examination of the body.
If your loved one was not taken to a hospital, the first time you see them after the accident may be at the funeral home. They funeral home may ask you to identify your loved one at this time.
Get Compassionate, Zealous Legal Help from Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyers Today
If a loved one has passed away in an accident, a court can help you determine if the death was wrongful and if someone’s negligence or carelessness was its cause.
While a wrongful death lawsuit can’t bring your loved one back or even begin to make up for the pain and suffering you’ve endured after your loss, it can help ameliorate some of the financial burden created by the passing away of a loved one.
Wrongful death settlements can be used to cover unexpected funeral costs and hospital expenses, lost wages, and to help protect families whose primary financial provider has passed away.
However, there is a time limit and you only have three years to file your claim. If the wrongful death statute of limitations passes before you file a lawsuit, you will likely lose your right to obtain any kind of compensation for your loved one’s death.
It’s critical that you reach out to a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible following the loss of your loved one, even though doing so may be extraordinarily difficult.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we’re here for you. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.