Can a Wrongful Death Claim Affect a Decedent’s Estate?

If a person dies at the fault of another party, the victim’s surviving family members may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawsuit is intended to hold the responsible party liable for any accident and death related damages that impacted the victim’s family. A lawsuit seeks compensation for such damages to reduce the burden of those affected.

The legislation of a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state, and can be a complicated matter. Generally, a wrongful death attorney will file a claim on behalf of the surviving family members. If a settlement results from the lawsuit, the way with which it is dealt can depend on several factors, but will typically become part of the decedent’s estate.

How is a Wrongful Death Claim Distributed?

The way in which a wrongful death award is distributed varies greatly by state. Generally, distribution of the award is not dependent on a decedent’s will. Many states distribute at least parts of the award to a spouse or other surviving family members impacted by the death. In some states, all or parts of the award will be distributed to the estate, in which case it may go to the heir or heirs. In the unlikely event that something like this could happen, it is wise to plan with an estate planning lawyer the future of your loved ones and potential belongings.


There are certain damages that the estate of the decedent has the capability of recovering, and this will vary by state. Some of these damages may include:

  • Medical Bills
  • Funeral Expenses
  • Emotional damages
  • Loss of future earnings, services and inheritance
  • Loss of consortium

Who Can File a Claim?

Many states have laws and restrictions on who is able to actually a wrongful death claim. Most states allow close surviving family members to file a claim so long as they sustained damages from the death. Any surviving individuals that were some way dependent on the decedent may also be able to file a claim. Multiple people may wish to file a wrongful death claim, so a lawyer will usually combine them into a single claim of which will be filed on the survivor’s behalf.

What is a Survival Action?

A survival action allows for an estate or surviving members of a decedent to sue for the damages and injuries that the decedent experienced before he or she died. This tort can be used in cases where the decedent does not pass away immediately. The action is in place to enable the recovery of damages that may have been compensated for had the decedent survived. These damages may include medical bills, punitive damages and wages lost while incapacitate before the time of death. If the decedent has a will, then the compensation of the damages will be distributed in accordance of the will. Otherwise, the distribution will be dealt with as if no will or estate plan is in place.

Filing a wrongful death claim and determining proper distributions of the award can be a stressful process with numerous complications. To ease some of the burden, an experienced estate planning and trust lawyer Sacramento CA trusts in your state can offer legal counsel and guidance, as well as act as a representative in a claim case.

Yee Law Group Sacramento Probate Attorneys and Estate Planning (1)Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into wrongful death and estate planning.



4 Reasons Hiring an Attorney is the Right Move


A public defender seems like a more financially viable option for those worried about the cost of an attorney. It is true that you will be supplied a public defender by the state, but that does not mean it is your best option for defense. Here are a few reasons why hiring a private attorney, while more expensive, is the right move in your case.


  1. Time

Public defenders typically try to push cases through expediently because they don’t get paid very well for their services. Since they aren’t paid by the hour, public defender don’t spend too much time on each client– in order to make a decent living, they have to move on to the next case. This can lead to the public defender strongly encouraging a plea deal very quickly into the case and they typically don’t have the clout to negotiate favorable terms for you. A private attorney will take time to spend with your case and also focus on your unique needs.


  1. Advice and Instructions

Depending on the crime you are being tried for, there can be certain steps you can take to receive a lighter sentence. For example, if you enter rehab while being tried for a substance abuse charge, a judge could find this favorable and reduce or suspend your sentence. Because a public defender prefers to move cases along, they might neglect to provide you with this type of insight. A private attorney is more able to provide you with advice and instruction because they are getting paid to handle YOUR case. A public defender may also forget to tell you that your behavior will be monitored closely before and during the trial and may affect your outcome. A private attorney can offer advice and work closely with you during the process.


  1. Better Defense Strategy

A private attorney is much more skilled and experienced in handling the prosecution. They are well-versed in dissecting the arguments of a prosecutor–and public defenders generally don’t have the experience (or the time) to focus on battling those arguments. In the discovery period, both sides are digging for any reasonable evidence to prove their case, it is a crucial stage in the process. This could be the sharp difference between an acquittal and a conviction.


  1. Leverage

Having an attorney rather than an assigned public defender even affects the prosecutors! They expect a more challenging case if they are dealing with a private attorney. It is even possible that your private defender could point out extreme errors in the prosecution’s arguments which could result in dropped charges.  Instead of facing a plea bargain, as 90-95 percent of cases do, hiring a private attorney will give you more leverage to negotiate.


Be Prepared

Being underprepared can lead to problems with anxiety. Hiring a private attorney ensure that you are prepared, well-represented, and know what to expect. Thankfully an experienced attorney can help keep you updated on an overwhelming process. They can also help decipher confusing legal jargon used during the case or hearing outcomes.

Although an inevitably stressful situation, that stress caused by a potential conviction can be lightened by ensuring you have the best chance at winning your case. Be proactive in your future. Contact a personal attorney such as the criminal attorney Fairfax VA locals trust today to ease your stress.

Albo & Oblon Attorney and counselors at lawThanks to authors at Albo Oblon LLP for their insight into Criminal Defense Law.

5 Myths About Wills, Trusts, and Probate


The majority of people don’t know a lot about wills. Drafting wills can be quite complex and should be left to experienced estate planning attorneys. However, it’s still a good idea to learn some more information about estate planning. Here are five things you may have thought were true but are actually myths.


  1. The State Gets Everything

Many people seem to think the state will get all a person’s assets if that person does not have a will. The truth is the court will determine which person gets what assets.

In fact, the only time the state will get all of your assets is if you do not have a will and your blood relatives can’t be found.


  1. Spouses Do not Have to Leave Anything to Each Other

Unlike popular belief, spouses are not required to leave all of their assets to each other. If there are children, a lot of couples to choose to leave everything to them. However, the surviving spouse can take the “elective share” entitled by state law. This is typically one-third of the estate. Surviving spouses can also receive up to one year of support or stay in the family home.


  1. Only the Rich Need to Worry About Estate Planning

Estate planning is not just for the super wealthy anymore. People with a wide range of incomes can benefit from planning their estate. If you have an estate plan, you can decide who will make financial and medical decisions if you become incapacitated. You can also name the person you want to take care of your minor children if you die.


  1. Estates Remain in Probate for Years

The probate process does not take nearly as long as many people think. Most of the time, it takes anywhere from three months to a year. This is to give creditors enough time to file claims against the decedent’s assets. After all the debts and taxes are paid, the rest of the estate is administered to the heirs.

However, an estate can stay in probate longer if there is a family conflict, the estate is very large or there is ongoing income.


  1. Trusts Eliminate Estate and Inheritance Taxes

Not all taxes can be eliminated with a trust. However, a skilled probate attorney such as the Scottsdale Estate Planning Attorney locals have been trusting for years may be able to create a trust that reduces a large amount of estate taxes.


Arizona Estate Planning Attorney A special thanks to our authors at Hildebrand Law for their expertise in Probate and Estate Law.


What is Unsupervised Probation?

In the event that somebody who has been convicted of a crime does not have a number of offenses on their criminal record, they may be considered eligible for unsupervised probation. Those who have been convicted of relatively minor offenses may also be considered eligible for unsupervised probation. Unsupervised provision is the least serious, aside from a suspended sentence or a dismissal of criminal charges.

Historical Establishment

The very first state to utilize probation as a mitigated punishment model was Boston in the mid-19th century. That was followed with Massachusetts establishing a statewide probation system near the end of the century. Every state in the union officially established a probation system by the year 1951 and utilized it in at least one criminal case.

Terms and Requirements

In order for the court to consider an unsupervised probationary period successful, the individual needs to satisfy all counseling and educational requirements. Though the probation is unsupervised, the individual must satisfy any penalties that the court imposed in response to guilty party’s crime.

Oftentimes, one of the primary responsibilities that an individual on unsupervised probation must fulfill is some form of community service. As the probationary period does not require active supervision, it will be the responsibility of the individual to make sure that they complete the community service that the court imposed on them.

Periodic Oversight

An individual fulfilling an unsupervised probationary term won’t be actively monitored on a 24/7 basis. However, they may be required to occasionally meet with a probation officer for oversight purposes. This is to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of their sentence in terms of community service and full legal compliance.

Provided that an individual who is granted unsupervised probation successfully follows through with all the terms of their arrangement, it is possible that they will not have to interact with the probation officer or court on a regular basis.

Potential Infractions and Revocation

 In the event that an individual on unsupervised probation is found guilty of a new crime or fails to follow through on the conditions of their arrangement, they might have their probationary period revoked and replaced with imprisonment. However, the approach that the court takes toward unsupervised probation revocation tends to be graduated, as a criminal defense lawyer Fairfax VA relies on can explain.

  • The very first infraction may not necessitate having the unsupervised probation completely revoked.
  • If the offenses are consistent or severe enough, the court may determine that the offender is too much of a risk to allow outside of the penitentiary until their sentence has been served.
  • For any infractions that are not severe enough to mandate imprisonment, the unsupervised probation may be converted to a more heavily supervised probation.

Albo & Oblon Attorney and counselors at lawThanks to our friends and contributors from Albo & Oblon, L.L.P. for their insight into unsupervised probation and criminal defense cases.

5 Things To Know About Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Drivers in virtually every state are required to have car insurance in order to operate a vehicle legally. Unfortunately, not all drivers abide by this law; others may not have sufficient coverage in the case of a severe accident. Over 14% of drivers today carry very little or no insurance for their vehicle; getting in an accident with an uninsured motorist could be very costly for accident victims that do not have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

If you’re not familiar with this type of insurance coverage, here are a few things you should know about it:

  1. Uninsured motorist coverage can provide financial assistance for drivers who are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

This type of coverage is intended to cover your own costs if the other driver is liable for causing the accident but does not have car insurance. The specific options available for uninsured motorist coverage vary by state and insurance company.

  1. You purchase this coverage through your own insurance provider.

Many insurers include this type of coverage in their standard auto policy, and some are required by state laws to do so.

  1. There may be coverage limits on your uninsured motorist coverage policy.

As with most auto insurance policies, there may be a limit or cap on the amount of money your insurer will pay out for your uninsured motorist coverage after an accident. In most cases, you could choose between two types of uninsured motorist coverage:

  1. A combined single limit: The limit is the maximum amount of money you may receive per accident.
  2. A split limit: This is broken down into maximum dollar amounts for two components:
  3. The maximum dollar amount for each person’s accident-related costs
  4. The maximum dollar amount of money for everyone’s combined costs

As an example, if you have split limit coverage of $20,000/$45,000, the $20,000 would be the maximum paid out for injuries experienced by one person in the accident. The $45,000 is the maximum amount your insurance company would pay out for the total cost of injuries experienced by every person involved in the accident.

  1. Drivers in “No-Fault states” might not have to worry about uninsured motorist coverage.

Should you live in a no-fault state, the issue of who was at fault for an accident is not important because your insurance company would compensate you for your losses regardless of liability.

In a state with tort car insurance, drivers may not be protected in the same way and might need to purchase uninsured or underinsured coverage options. In a tort state, a person involved in an accident with an uninsured driver may be able to use their health insurance to cover their medical bills.

  1. You may call a lawyer for counsel if you have questions about liability or insurance coverage after an accident.

Though you may be insured and believe you have sufficient insurance to cover all contingencies, the costs related to a motor vehicle accident can quickly surpass the average insurance policy’s limits. An experienced car accident lawyer Minneapolis MN trusts may be able to seek additional compensation by pursuing the at-fault driver’s relevant personal assets.

A skilled attorney may be able to negotiate the highest possible settlement from the insurance company. He or she may also be able to expedite the payment process. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision through no fault of your own, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.

ASThanks to our friends and contributors from Johnston Martineau PLLP for their insight into uninsured motorist coverage.

Don’t Kill Time in Jail

If you cannot make bail after an arrest, you can still pick yourself up by making the most of your down time.  With an eye toward maximizing your chances at future bail hearings or minimizing your sentencing exposure, do the following:

Silence: It’s not only golden, it’s the simplest and best advice you’ll ever get.  Anything you say in jail to anyone is the same as whispering in the prosecutor’s ear.  Apparently friendly inmates and even guards will work you for statements to help themselves.  Some of these characters are desperate and will take the smallest seed of truth and spin a false confession around it.  Even if what you say is the truth, a reasonably skilled prosecutor can exploit your words to make it look like you are lying.  The only defense is to not talk about your case at all.  Ignore that advice and your chances of a worse outcome skyrocket.

Jail phones: Jail phones often will have a message at the beginning of each call that the calls are being recorded.  Those recordings can be a treasure trove for prosecutors.  Again, do not discuss anything about your case.  Say nothing on those phones that you would not want played to a jury or sentencing judge.  Obviously, do not talk to witnesses or alleged victims about your case on these phones, even through third party calls.

Work the jail programs: Some inmates will downplay their importance, but taking advantage of jail programs can make a huge difference in your case.  If you have substance abuse issues, get right into whatever programs are offered.  Even if you do not believe you will personally benefit, participating can’t hurt and often helps.  If you have a mental health history, try to make arrangements to see the medical staff and restart any medications you may have stopped prior to being arrested.  If you have access to GED classes, either mentor or enroll.  Getting involved tells the judge that you are a lower risk than someone just doing the time.

Respect corrections officers and fellow inmates: You are not going to like being in jail, that is a given, but if you take it out on the guards or your cellies it can affect your classification within the jail and may find its way back to the prosecutor.  Guards form impressions very quickly and will single out troublemakers.  Look to some of the older inmates for examples.

Character references: Think about the people who know the real you, before you ended up in jail.  Anyone can write a character letter and send it to your lawyer (not directly to the judge), but try to reach out to persons whose opinions may impress a judge: teachers, police officers from your home town, members of government.  Character references give foundation to your sentencing argument that “this is not you.”

Formulate a plan: You obviously should be contemplating your defense, challenging the prosecution’s proof, but Plan B in a criminal defense always has to include the “what if” of conviction by plea or trial.  When you are released, where will you live?  Will that person vouch for you at sentencing?  Will your employer take you back and will they write a letter to that effect?  Have you made contact with prior care providers (counselors, psychiatrists, etc.) and made an appointment immediately after your release?  Do you have family and people from the community who will come to court for you? When judges see that kind of support, they are less uneasy about a lighter sentence. Consult with an experienced attorney such as the Bangor ME criminal defense lawyer locals trust.

David Bate LawThanks to our authors at Bate Law for their insight into Criminal Defense Law.

Are Paid Housing Expenses Considered When Determining Child Support Requirements?


Correctly calculating child support is one of the largest issues in many divorces. Like many other states, Florida attempts to make child support determinations systematic and transparent through the use of a standardized worksheet. However, it is still up to the trial court to correctly interpret this worksheet, and this process sometimes results in errors. Consulting with an experienced attorney such as the child custody attorney Tampa FL locals trust is advised.

In general, Florida’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet is fairly straightforward. This form must be filled out in any divorce case where child support is requested. The worksheet asks for certain basic financial information about the parents and children, including the mother and father’s net monthly incomes, monthly child care costs, monthly insurance costs and monthly medical and dental costs; the form also takes into consideration the amount of time that the children spend with each parent. While trial judges can deviate from the calculated amount of child support due as shown on the worksheet, this form is one of the central tools used by Florida’s courts in making proper child support determinations.

However, the worksheet is not foolproof, as one Florida man recently found out. In Bond v. Bond, Michael Bond appealed a nonfinal order entered by the trial court in the divorce proceedings with his wife. In this order, the trial judge had granted Lauren Bond’s request for temporary child support. However, in calculating the amount due by Michael Bond to Lauren Bond, the trial court used a Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that omitted the amount that Michael Bond paid for the mortgage on the home when Lauren Bond and their children live. Because this amount was not taken into consideration, Michael Bond was ordered to pay Lauren Bond a significantly higher amount of child support.

In reviewing the trial court’s order, the Second District Court of Appeals agreed with Michael Bond. When determining child support, the appellate court asserted, “in kind contributions” such as mortgage payments should be considered when determining the amount of child support due. The trial court had erred in not considering the more than $1,100 that Michael Bond was paying for his wife and children’s housing expenses.

In short, as the appellate court stated, the law on this issue is clear: any housing expenses paid by one party for the other’s benefit must be factored into the calculations for determining child support.

McKinney Law GroupThanks to authors at Mckinney Law Group for their insight into Family and Divorce Law.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make After a Car Accident

Most of us prepare for the possibility of a car accident. We purchase insurance, make sure our car has certain safety features, and use caution when we drive.

But as an auto accident lawyer Memphis TN has trusted for decades, I know most of us don’t prepare for what to do AFTER an accident. Many people make the same 5 most common mistakes:

  1. Say how sorry they are

Right after the accident, many people will jump out of the car and say how sorry they are, even if they weren’t at fault. The stress and anxiety makes people feel like they have to apologize. But unfortunately, the insurance companies can use that against you. They’ll say it was an admission of fault. Most of us say we’re sorry to mean “excuse me” and “it’s terrible this happened.” But insurance companies don’t like to give the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Fail to get all the information on site

After an accident, most people know you need to get the driver’s insurance information. But you should also get information from any witnesses and take pictures of the scene.

If you need immediate medical attention, you obviously can’t get this information right then. But most of the time, I see drivers who absolutely could get the info but don’t realize how important it might be later.

  1. Refuse to see a doctor

If you don’t feel any pain after an accident, you may think you’re fine. Unfortunately, whiplash can show up a week or two after the accident. Some people start to experience migraines and other pain. If they wait too long to get it treated, it may be much harder to prove a connection to the crash.

I recommend going to the doctor after an accident, no matter what. A doctor can show you what stress the crash might have caused on your body and tell you what to look out for as you recover.

  1. Talk with the other driver’s insurance company

I tell my clients not to go anywhere near the other driver’s insurance company. Hang up the phone if they call, and don’t ask them any questions. The minute you start talking, they will look for ways to prove you were at least partially at fault. They may also offer you tempting settlement options. Without an attorney, you have no idea how good an offer it might be, and it likely won’t cover your expenses from the wreck. So instead I always tell people to get an attorney and let the insurance company talk to them instead.

  1. Decide not to call an attorney first thing

Sometimes people will talk with their insurance company and decide to tackle their car accident case on their own. I strongly urge you not to do that. Contact a car accident attorney and let them discuss your case for free. You may be shocked by what they say. They’re used to investigating car accident cases and working with the insurance companies, so you could get a much higher compensation with their help.

Darrell Castle LawThanks to our friends and contributors from Darrell Castle & Associates, PLLC for their insight into car accidents.

Do’s And Don’ts For Pedestrians Who Are Injured In A Motor Vehicle Accident

Pedestrian accidents are on the rise in the United States today. According to the Center For Disease Control or CDC, most pedestrians are hit by vehicles in urban areas at night. While some pedestrian accidents are not serious, others leave accident victims with injuries that will affect them for the rest of their life. The following is an overview of personal injury law and how it relates to pedestrian accidents. If you have been injured by a driver while walking, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney to discuss your legal options.


There are some important steps you can take to increase your chances of obtaining a settlement after a pedestrian accident. Below are some “Do’s” to keep in mind:

  • Do Get The Driver’s Contact Information

If you are physically able to after your accident, request the driver’s contact information. Drivers are legally obligated to stop after being involved in an accident, so this gives you a chance to obtain the name, phone number, driver’s license information, and insurance information. Your options may be limited if the driver did not stop and you are the victim of a hit and run accident.

  • Do Report the Accident

It is important to report the accident to the police after being hit by a vehicle. Report the accident to the police, no matter how minor your injuries may seem at the time. Many injuries will gradually worsen over time. For this reason, it is important to have a record of the accident so you can file a claim for your injuries.


There are also things you should not do after being involved in a pedestrian accident. Some of the “Don’ts” include:

  • Don’t Admit Fault

Obtaining compensation in a pedestrian accident hinges on you being able to prove the driver of the vehicle was negligent and caused your injuries. Some cases are easy to prove who was at fault, while others may not be as clear cut. No matter the circumstances surrounding the accident, it is important to never admit fault to anyone at the scene. Doing so may result in your statements being used against you later on in court.

  • Don’t deny yourself Medical Treatment

You must seek medical treatment after being hit by a car. Even if you do not feel you are seriously hurt, it is important to seek treatment and keep copies of your medical records. Many people refuse medical treatment immediately following an accident only to find their pain suddenly increase a day or two later.

If you have been injured by a negligent driver while walking in a public place, contact a personal injury attorney for advice. After a brief consultation, an attorney will offer an opinion on whether or not you have a strong case and possibly how to move forward with it. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer Phoenix AZ can count on to represent you may help you obtain a fair settlement for the injuries you sustained as a pedestrian from the at-fault party.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Lorona Mead for their insight into car accident cases.

Can I Sue the City for My Bus Accident Injury?

If you’re injured in an accident involving a municipal owned and operated bus, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the municipality. However, claims involving government agencies are handled somewhat differently than ordinary auto accidents. Some of those differences can be pivotal in whether or not a claimant is successful at recovering their accident costs.

The Standard of Care

Nearly all personal injury cases against municipally owned bus companies are based on the law of negligence. Along with other elements, it must be shown that the government entity, bus driver, third-party maintenance company, or another party failed to use proper care to avoid a foreseeable risk of harm to the injured claimant. It’s not unusual for bus accident cases to involve more than one defendant or accused parties. This is one of several reasons why bus accident victims can benefit from working with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with complex cases.

Common Carrier Law

A common carrier is a person or entity such as a municipal bus company that provides transportation services to the public.

  • In some states, a common carrier owes a higher duty of care to its passengers than an ordinary person would owe to a passenger in their car.
  • In other states, a duty of ordinary care exists. In either case, negligence must be proven.
  • It’s unlikely that a municipal bus company or authority would be held liable for injuries suffered in a passenger’s fall if the driver swerved to avoid a child darting out into traffic.
  • In a high duty of care state, it’s possible that the transit company would be held liable for a passenger’s injuries if its driver crashed into the rear of a stopped car while conversing with a passenger. The supposition would be that the driver didn’t give the roadway 100 percent of his attention.

Tort Claims Acts

Since municipal transportation companies are owned by government entities or agencies, special state laws usually apply to them. These laws are sometimes referred to as sovereign immunity, or state tort claims acts. Expect short deadlines for claims and lawsuits against municipal bus companies, though they differ from state to state. They usually include claim notice deadlines for notifying the municipal transportation company of the facts and circumstances surrounding an accident. A personal injury lawyer can assist you with this process. Failure to properly complete or file the claim notice can result in dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit against a municipal bus company.


If a person files a proper and timely claim notice and lawsuit, he or she is still likely to face a damages cap, no matter how serious his or her injuries might be. Damages caps are set by statute, and they can be as low as $100,000. What a cap might be depends on the state in which the accident occurred.

Passengers injured in bus accidents, and the families of those who perished in them, might be eligible for damages to compensate them for their accident-related losses. Remember that the applicable time periods for seeking compensation are usually short. Contact a personal injury lawyer such as the Truck Accident Lawyer MD locals trust, as quickly as possible after suffering an injury or losing a family member in a bus accident.

Frederick J. Brynn LawA special thanks to our Author at Fred Brynn Law for their insight into Personal Injury.