There is no life event more devastating than the death of a child. In those instances when that loss has been caused by another’s negligence, whether intentional or not, speaking with a trusted attorney can offer a layer of security and comfort to grieving parents. An attorney can determine liability issues, ensure all evidence is secured, and take on the issues of making contact with witnesses, obtaining police reports and medical records, and issuing any necessary notices to involved parties. Often, insurance companies will press for quick, nominal settlements from parents who have not yet had time to process their grief. Having an attorney, like a wrongful death lawyer, allows parents to pass those persistent callers on to someone engaged in protecting the parents’ interest.
An absentee parent can be an equally difficult situation for the custodial parent. Often, when a minor child passes, the absent parent will reappear or seek to reestablish contact with the custodial parent, other relatives, or old friends. While I am sure these previously uninvolved parties are initially motivated by a sense of loss and grief, it is certainly not uncommon for these same persons to ingratiate themselves with the child’s primary caretaker and others, all while seeking information as to potential insurance or legal claims related to the child’s death. A grieving parent can be easy prey for someone with whom he or she has had a prior relationship and can often be made to feel a duty to share information related to legal situations. An attorney can advise and protect the custodial parent’s interests and provide important advice as to exactly what information, if any, the custodial parent is required to provide. No agreements with the absent parent, either verbal or in writing, should be made. But if an agreement has been made, the attorney should be made aware of the conversation or document at the earliest opportunity. It is much easier for an attorney to protect the client’s interests when complete information is provided at the outset.
An unfortunate fact of today’s society is that some children will have two absentee parents and will be in the care and control of other family members without the benefit of a legal guardianship. While it is natural to want family matters to remain private, anyone providing the primary care and control of a child should speak with an attorney to establish a legal guardianship. When a child’s death occurs, whether or not the caretaker’s status has been previously established through the proper court process will be a factor taken into consideration in any legal proceedings.
In every situation, once a parent or caretaker has consulted with an attorney, it is important for the confidentiality of the attorney/client communications to be maintained. Discussions had with an attorney or the attorney’s staff should not be repeated to other people. Having the ability to discuss sensitive issues with an attorney and gain insight into the availability of recovering damages for the wrongful death of a child can be both difficult and cathartic, but it is a discussion that should be had sooner rather than later.
Contact the Law Office of Richard J Banta, P.C., we provide legal services with an emphasis on you, the client. We understand that you’re experiencing a difficult and stressful time. Put our experience and successful track record behind your case today.