If someone in your family was recently killed, you may have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit to receive some compensation for your loss. Naturally, at a time like this, you may not feel up to filing a lawsuit. A common question from people in this situation is whether or not they have to appear in court if they were to file. If the requirements upon them are minimal, it can make the whole process a lot more appealing. This guide will provide more information about this question and its answer.
Appearing in Court
If you file a wrongful death lawsuit, then it is important to understand what your role in the suit will be. You will take on the role of the plaintiff, while the person who is accused of being responsible for the death will be the defendant. Under normal circumstances, the plaintiff always needs to be present in court.
Wrongful death cases are quite unusual, though. Technically, the lawsuit is being filed on behalf of the deceased, rather than by the plaintiff directly. This creates a little bit more leniency on whether or not you need to be present in court. You should still count on needing to be present, but it is possible that the judge may make an exception for you, especially considering the difficult time you are in. Your attorney must make an official request to the judge. Do not assume it is okay and not show up, otherwise the whole case may be thrown out.
If you do have to appear in court, your contribution will be minimal. For the most part, you simply need to be present while your attorney represents you. Your attorney may ask that you take the stand and provide your testimony, but that is something you will discuss in advance. You will know before you appear in court if you will need to testify. Despite its depiction in entertainment, there is no such thing as a surprise witness.
There is a chance that your case will settle before it goes to trial. If this happens, then you will not have to appear in court at all. However, there is nothing you can do to cause a settlement to happen. Your attorney may extend a settlement offer to the defendant, but it may not be accepted. Likewise, the defendant’s attorney may extend a settlement offer to you. If you are worried about appearing in court, accepting is not a bad idea.
Talk to a wrongful death lawyer, like a wrongful death lawyer in Orlando, FL, for more information.
Thanks to Needle & Ellenberg, P.A. for their insight into whether you have to appear in court for a wrongful death lawsuit.