A fatal accident may give rise to any number of feelings and reactions. Some are productive, others are less so. Some must be repressed, while others should be indulged. When you’re still fumbling in the thick of the trauma, it is neither your duty nor your advantage to move too quickly. On the one hand, the 2-year statute of limitations is not as long as it sounds; but on the other, there are many pitfalls for the unprepared in wrongful death claims. Filing a claim must not be procrastinated, but nor should it be carried out too quickly. If it is your particular reflex to respond to tragedy with decisive action, this is good—but take heed! Your admirable initiative can be detrimental if it gives way to impulsiveness and/or lack of preparation:
3 Reasons Not to Rush After a Fatal Accident
1. You probably won’t know what you’re rushing into.
Even assuming you know which direction to rush into, a wrongful death claim is a complicated process that, if you don’t know the ropes, could be compared to a maze: you know that you need to go in a certain direction to get from Point A to Point B, but don’t know which turns to take and when to take them in order to get there as quickly as possible unless you have some outside perspective. After a fatal accident, you might know that you need to obtain a death certificate, contact your insurance company, and file a claim; but many things are best done in a certain order, or you might smack into a wall later. It would be pretty straightforward if each of the seemingly simple items on the what-to-do checklist didn’t include their own sub-checklists, but obtaining death certificates and filing claims are not things that most people do on a regular basis. If only for ignorance of what you would be doing quickly if you were to move quickly, it makes more sense to move slowly and steadily rather than at a frenzied pace. Start the process promptly, but don’t run so fast you trip over your own feet.
2. You’ll make mistakes.
Not only are you unlikely to attain your objective quickly by hurtling along blindfolded at top speed; you may actually end up damaging your case and chances for suitable compensation if you make a wrong move. Making a claim is a science and, as such, requires concrete evidence to back every statement. Finalizing your narrative, documenting details, damages, etc., are tasks to complete with care and deliberation in order to prove that some party was liable for the accident and that the survivors have suffered considerably. A settlement made too early will almost certainly not account for all expenses; a recorded statement for the wrongdoer’s insurance company could serve to incriminate you later; an improperly-filed claim could be denied completely. A wrongful death being a delicate situation, the claimant can expect to meet with fierce opposition. The precision such a claim calls for cannot be achieved in a hurry.
3. You have other things to do.
While it makes all the sense in the world to get a wrongful death claim out of the way as soon as possible, the process can be time-consuming under the best of circumstances and depends upon the workings of a bureaucratic machine, not just the speed of the claimant. Even the wait can be emotionally taxing if there is an emotional investment in speed. Instead of rushing into a settlement that will almost definitely take its time regardless, the survivors of a wrongful death should be allowed to focus on their own psychic recovery from the accident. The settlement process may be a welcome distraction, but can be obstructive to the grieving process that cannot be stemmed indefinitely. If your wrongful death case is like most, it will run most smoothly with an attorney to represent your interests in deep water. Grief, stress, and general inexperience do not have to sabotage your claim if you have the right advocate on your side. To learn more about your options following a wrongful death in Utah, call the compassionate attorneys at Christensen & Hymas for a free initial consultation at (801) 506-0800.
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