Wrongful death suits allow friends and family to get justice for their loved ones, even if the legal system has failed to catch or convict the person responsible. To support a wrongful death suit, evidence is required. A wrongful death investigation can find the proof required to successfully sue for wrongful death and get justice and compensation.
If you’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one and are pursuing civil charges against the offending party, Trustify can help you get the evidence you need.
What is a Wrongful Death Investigation?
A wrongful death investigation’s purpose is to gather enough evidence about the death and the circumstances surrounding it to prove that the death was the responsibility of another party in court.
Legally, “wrongful death” is defined as the death of a someone resulting from the wrongful acts of another. A “wrongful act”, in this case, includes both intentional and negligent behaviors. When a wrongful death occurs, certain individuals have standing (i.e the death has caused them emotional, physical, or financial harm) to file suit against those persons or entities responsible for the death. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that requires the suing party (the plaintiff) to prove its case with a “preponderance” of the evidence, basically meaning that the total weight of evidence presented by both sides favors the plaintiff.
It’s the job of the investigator to identify all evidence relevant to the case, supportive or not. It is the client’s job, with the advice of counsel, to determine how best to use that evidence.
Who Starts a Wrongful Death Investigation?
Laws vary by jurisdiction regarding who has standing to sue for wrongful death, but may include:
- Surviving spouse or domestic partner, if the person was married to or in a legally-recognized domestic partnership with the decedent at the time death.
- Putative spouse: A putative spouse is a surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who had a “good faith” belief in the validity of the marriage at the time of the decedent’s death.
- Children or the issue of children of the decedent.
- Persons entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession if there are no surviving children.
- Certain minors who were dependent on the decedent at the time of the death.
- Personal representative of the decedent’s estate.
What does a Wrongful Death Investigation Consist Of?
Starting an investigation with Trustify is fast and simple. . There are four basic steps to starting a wrongful death investigation:
1. Request a Consultation: Submit your case online or by phone to schedule your consultation. We'll ask for the details we need to get your case matched with an investigator and provide cost estimates.
2. Consultation with a Private Investigator: A licensed private investigator will contact you to talk to you about the purpose and goals of the investigation, and to collect any relevant information about your case. the private investigator may ask you some questions, including:
- Who is the decedent?
- When did they pass away?
- What is your relationship to the decedent? Are you a spouse, child, other relative? Are you an attorney representing someone with standing to bring a wrongful death suit?
- Do you know of anyone else who may have standing to sue for wrongful death in this matter?
- What leads you to believe that the decedent’s death gives rise to a wrongful death claim?
- Was the death caused by an intentional act? Did the police respond to the scene of the death?
- Has a criminal investigation been conducted by law enforcement regarding the death?
- Have criminal charges been brought against anyone in this matter?
- Has a civil suit been filed in connection with this case? If so, are you a named party in that suit?
3. Investigation in Progress: Once you have discussed the details of the case with your investigator and given your approval, your investigator will begin work. The methods and techniques used will vary depending on the circumstances of your case, but might include:
- A review of all existing evidence, including police reports, accident reports, medical and coroner reports, witness statements, court filings, photographs, videos, physical evidence, etc.
- Visits to the scene to collect evidence, take photographs, etc.
- Locating and interviewing witnesses.
- Forensic testing, including fingerprinting, DNA tests, etc.
- Accident reconstruction.
- Physical surveillance.
4. Case Updates and Final Report: You will be kept informed of any and all important developments throughout the investigation period, and provided with a final written report summarizing all findings once the investigation is completed. Your investigator will also be available to testify on your behalf in a court of law or at any other case-related criminal or civil proceeding, if agreed on beforehand.
What Investigators Will Not Do
Trustify expects that the private investigators in its network will be independently bound to follow the law and the ethics standards of their profession. No member of the investigation team will break the law to obtain evidence, or act unethically to gather information. The integrity of the investigation is critical, and acting illegally or unethically can irreparably damage a case.