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Investigating a Death

The key to dealing with wrongful death cases will develop in the very first meeting.  It will be your chance to assess what is going on with each of the family members and understand what it is that they want and need.

Practical Issues.  There is always a ton of paperwork.  This comes in the form of dealing with the no-fault application (in a case involving a motor vehicle), life insurance policies, health insurance claims, and documents for law enforcement.  Most families are overwhelmed by just the pure sense of the death so having someone to deal with these issues is of great help.

Determining what is going on with the defendant, particularly if there are criminal charges.  Families will vary from wanting to be active in the criminal prosecution to in some cases actually feeling almost as bad as for the defendant themselves.  This may involve working with the prosecutor to make sure that every potential charge is looked at, putting together victim impact statements, and/or preparing individuals to testify at hearings.

It is important to act quickly in Minnesota and seek representation from a qualified wrongful death attorney

Determining what witnesses are available.  In many cases the insurance companies are on the case as soon as they get there.  They may even be getting involved in the representation of the defendant.  Grieving families can be left behind by not having someone out investigating right at the beginning.  Studies clearly indicate that the first investigator plays a big role in how witnesses remember incidents.  By allowing the insurance company to be there first, vital statements can be fundamentally altered.

Determining what evidence there is.  Beyond just people to talk to, there is often physical evidence that may play a role in suing the case.  Spoliation letters need to be sent to defendants, requests need to be made to law enforcement concerning files, and in many cases an inspection of the site may lead to finding items that others have missed.

Procuring photographs and inspection of the site individually or with experts to ensure that early documentation is done.

Thoroughly reviewing all insurance policies and looking at all angles concerning all potential coverages. 

                                                          Developing the Case

The real difference between creating value in a case is how well you can present the law.  The accumulation of photographs, family interviews and spending time with the people who have suffered the loss will make a difference in presenting the picture of what was lost.  Simple letters that just says ‘the decedent is gone give me money’ are lazy and not going to produce much.  That also runs you into the problem of whether you are really representing the family if you are not understanding the loss. 


This can be done in a number of ways:

1. Accumulating all photographs that the family has concerning the decedent.  These photographs need to be cherished, copied quickly and gotten back to the family so that they are never lost.  This is the little they have left of their loved one. 

2. Putting aside a day or in some cases days in order to interview each individual family member and spend time with them finding out what it is that they have lost.  There are some incredible stories that can be told but for grieving individuals the stories sometimes do not come easy.  Also, some of the most stoic individuals could provide you with some of the most valuable evidence.

Determine if there are places that need to be visited or events that should be attended.  This is information that will come from the interviews and can provide photographic or video opportunities to get to the heart of what was lost. 

Determine whether or not the use of a grief expert would not only help the people involved, but would also further document the loss.   









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