How To Handle Communications With Wrongful Death Clients

wrongful death communications

It is one of the most difficult times in someone’s life. When a loved one is lost, we feel lost ourselves. It is difficult to function and to complete all the necessary tasks that we take for granted in our daily lives.

As an attorney, it is your job to be sensitive and caring at these times. Whether you are a prosecuting attorney trying to get justice for the family, a civil attorney suing for wrongful death, or an estate attorney who handles this type of tragedy on a daily basis, you must reach into yourself to be calm, sensitive and patient with a lost one’s family.

Communication when you are an attorney is not only key, it is generally required to some extent in the Bar rules. Yet, the type of communication you offer to your clients will vary with the type of case and with your knowledge of the client. When you are dealing with communicating to a family that has lost a loved one, you may want to consider a different approach than another client.

For telephone conversations

TelephoneIf you are speaking over the phone to a family member of a pedestrian that was struck and killed, you may want to change your normal approach. Do you tend to sound rushed over the phone? Or perhaps you are doing other things while speaking to some clients?

Families of loved ones lost deserve more to make them feel comfortable and safe during this dire time. Pedestrian deaths in California are surprisingly common, putting together a game plan beforehand can help you relate.

Here are some tips to follow:

– Do not work on something else while on the phone with a family member

– Actively listen to their concerns

– Do not rush them, as this comes off insensitive

– Speak clearly and slowly, with a sympathetic voice

– Reassure them you are there to help them

– If negative information has to be given, provide it in a sympathetic way

For email conversations

emailIn any email, it can be difficult to understand someone’s tone of voice. You want to be careful to not come off as uncaring or sarcastic in an email communication with these clients. For a client to feel reassured, they want to know that you care and are taking your time to connect with them.

Here are some tips to follow:

– Open with condolences

– Reread your email carefully to make sure nothing can be taken the wrong way

– Get a second opinion to check if the message is making the same sense

– Use bullet points and keep the information you are providing clear

– If negative information has to be given, provide it in a sympathetic way

– Let them know they can either email you back or call, whichever is more comfortable for them

Being sensitive

The legal world can be a harsh one. You know that, but the family of someone lost does not necessarily know that. In order for you to get the information you need to do your job; you need the family to be cooperative. That is another reason why you need to be sympathetic when communicating.

Do you realize your clients are dealing with a great loss, including loss of companionship and possible loss of financial stability? Funeral costs are rising and medical bills can be astronomical. Can you put yourself in their shoes? How would you want to be communicated with? Keep that in mind when speaking to these clients.

Reassure them that you know no amount of compensation can bring back their loved one from this tragedy. Yet, there can be peace of mind in knowing the party who is in the wrong has taken responsibility and that bills can be paid. You may have a client whose family cannot face the reading of a will, or know how to process probate. That is where you come in to explain every step of the way.


Remember, you are the one who is there for them so they are not going through this alone. When communicating with these clients, keep in mind their tragedy, their hardship, and heartache. These clients are grieving, and may not be able to handle legal issues. They have other things on their mind, but they need to be kept on notice of the progress you are making

in their case. You may even want to consider communicating with them more often than other clients to show your support.