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Questions to Ask an Ohio Wrongful Death Attorney

Post By Corey Heit

What to Expect When you First Meet With a Wrongful Death Attorney in Columbus, Ohio

The very first and most important thing to know when you first sit down to speak with a Columbus wrongful death attorney is that the lawyer is on your side. At a time when it feels like the entire universe is working against you—and the insurance company for the negligent driver or other party that is responsible for taking the life of your loved one certainly is—the wrongful death lawyer only wants to use their time, resources and expertise in the law to help you.

You should also show up prepared to share as much about the fatal accident and its aftereffects as you can. The more a wrongful death attorney knows upfront, the more they will be able to tackle your case aggressively.

What You Should Bring When You First Talk to a Wrongful Death Attorney

Here, we are talking about your first actual meeting. This is the one that comes after you connect with a lawyer online or by phone. That initial contact will be similar to setting an appointment with a doctor or dentist. You do not need to prepare much for that brief interaction, but you should be ready to give a general description of your potential case.

Whether you arrange to have the wrongful death attorney visit you, to go into the attorney’s office, or to conduct the first meeting online via Zoom or a similar app, show up with the following materials and information.

  • Medical records and the death certificate: The official cause of death matters for indicating that the circumstances leading up to it were preventable.
  • Medical bills and other financial documents related to the wrongful death: Bring hospital bills, health insurance statements, pay stubs for the person who died, and a basic household budget. All this information will be essential for estimating the amount of a fair and just insurance settlement. That estimate will also determine what a jury is asked to award if going to trial becomes necessary.
  • Police reports: These are essential for any case arising from a car crash or truck accident. If a report has not been issued by the time you meet with the lawyer, discuss when the report can be obtained. Succeeding with a wrongful death case arising from a crash in Ohio requires proving that the other driver was more than 50 percent at fault. The police report will provide invaluable evidence and also point to leads for collecting more facts and testimony.
  • Your story: Be ready to talk about your relationship with your loved one, the accident or incident that took their life, and what the wrongful death victim’s absence will mean for you and your family. Compensation for emotional distress and losses such as loss of companionship that do not have fixed dollar values will constitute a significant share of any insurance settlement or jury award.

What You Should Ask the Wrongful Death Attorney

Arrive ready to ask more questions than you answer. When you talk to the lawyer handling your wrongful death case, never forget that they work for you. Do not hesitate to ask for definitions of unfamiliar terms, explanations of tactics and strategy, and, after you hire them, progress reports.

During your very first meeting, make sure to get satisfactory answers to the following five questions.

  • Do I have a winnable case? No wrongful death attorney can promise you a settlement or jury award. Too many factors affect how a case ends to make guarantees. At the same time, an experienced and ethical lawyer will give you an honest assessment of your chances of holding the person or organization that caused the death of your loved accountable.
  • Have you handled a case like mine before? Experience matters. No two cases are identical, but similar circumstances suggest specific proven tactics.
  • Can you describe a couple of cases where you achieved a positive outcome for your client? Success matters. While, again, each case is different, an attorney who has built a strong track record of success will also have established an extensive network of independent investigators and experts who can be put to work on your behalf.
  • How involved will you need me to be as the case proceeds? Filing a wrongful death claim commits you to participating in a legal proceeding that can prove lengthy, frustrating, inconvenient, and, at times, too intrusive on your privacy. A caring and empathetic attorney will work to shield you from endless phone calls and emails from the defendant’s insurance company and legal team. But you must understand what demands will placed on you to provide evidence, show up for hearings, sit for a deposition, and potentially give testimony at trial.
  • How much will it cost me to hire you? Do not shy away from talking about money. Most wrongful death attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means they will not take any fees until they secure a settlement or win a jury award for you. The lawyer’s pay and reimbursement for things like court fees and office expenses will be assessed as a fixed percentage of the settlement or award. It is worth your time and whatever social discomfort it may cause to clarify this business arrangement at the beginning of the case. Also be sure to ask what the contingency fee will be and whether any additional charges may be assessed.

Meet With a Columbus Wrongful Death Attorney Corey Heit of Heit Law offers free consultations to potential clients, and he only takes wrongful death cases on contingency. Based in Westerville, he advises and represents clients in Columbus and throughout Franklin County. You can connect with Corey online or speak with him directly by calling (614) 898-5300.

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