Wrongful deaths happen more often than they should. According to the CDC, the number of unintentional injury deaths is approximately 169,936 per year in the United States.
Unfortunately, the surviving loved ones of the deceased suffer the most. If you’ve lost a loved one to negligence or an accident, filing a wrongful death lawsuit is the best course of action.
To learn more about what happens in a wrongful death lawsuit, take a look at the information below.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit occurs when a person dies due to the fault of another person. Examples of wrongful death are situations like fatal car accidents, medical malpractice, and faulty products.
Individuals, corporations, and governmental agencies can all be legally sued for negligence or for acting with malicious intent.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death charges can be brought on by different types of people and companies. Here are a few examples:
- Driver in an at-fault car accident
- Manufacturer or distributor of a faulty vehicle
- The driver of public transportation that resulted in a deadly accident
- Builder of a dangerous roadway
- Government agency that fails to provide proper warning
- Company or person who served alcohol to a drunk driver
In these instances, your loved one would likely be alive if it weren’t for the negligence of another person or corporation. Because of that, you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
Wrongful death lawsuits have to be filed by a rep on behalf of a loved one who endures damage from the loss of a relative. These individuals are known as real parties of interest.
The representative is generally the executor of the decedent’s estate and the real parties of interest usually include the following:
Close family members: Each state allows relatives such as spouses, children, and parents to recover damages under a wrongful death suit.
Distant relatives: Some states permit distant family members like grandparents and siblings to file a wrongful death claim as well. For example, an aunt, uncle, or grandparent who took care of the deceased can also file a suit
Romantic partners and financial dependents: Some states allow for domestic or life partners the right to claim recovery. Some states also let the financial dependents of the deceased or a putative spouse to file a suit.
Any person who is affected financially: In other states, any individual who suffers financially from a person’s death can bring forth wrongful death action. Even if they are not related by blood or marriage.
Parents of a deceased fetus: The wrongful death of a fetus is grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Some states do not allow suits for recovery of financial and emotional suffering as a result of the passing of a fetus.
In those cases, the parents can only a suit if the child was born alive and died later.
Loss From a Wrongful Death
Only certain damages are covered under wrongful death suit payouts. The losses allowed for survivors to receive compensation include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Pre-death pain and suffering, known as a survival claim
- The cost of medical treatment
- Loss of income from the deceased party
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of inheritance due to death
- Value of services provided by the deceased
- Loss of consortium
If you’ve suffered one or more of these losses due to the death of a loved one, chances are you have a shot at winning a wrongful death claim.
What Happens in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The first step in a wrongful death lawsuit is to file a complaint. Once you’ve done that, the claim is served to the defendant and put through the court system. The defendant usually has a set timeframe to respond to the claim.
When you hire a lawyer, the individual starts the case by investigating. They might speak with you along with other relatives to gather information. The attorney may also consult experts to get an idea of the viability of the claim.
After the attorney decides that the suit is viable, they’ll prepare a demand package. It’s a submission that goes to the insurance provider if there’s potential coverage.
This process starts the pre-suit settlement negotiations. If the pre-suit negotiations don’t work, the lawyer has to put together the documents needed to file a suit on your behalf.
Another phase of the process is the motion for summary judgment. These aren’t filed in every case, but when they are, they make a big impact.
This kind of judgment asks that the judge make a decisive ruling. If the judge grants the motion, the case could get dismissed.
If a case moves to trial, a lawyer could also file a motion requesting that the court puts the verdict in their favor. However, the judge’s decision only happens once every witness and party has had the opportunity to give their arguments. After closing statements, the jury starts deliberation.
The Chances of Winning a Wrongful Death Suit
The best way to win a wrongful death suit is to have good legal representation. An experienced attorney can gather all the information needed to give you a fighting chance.
It also helps to have as much proof as possible. Being able to substantiate your claim gives you the upper hand.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit Money: Are You a Victim?
Losing a loved one is tough. However, losing them due to the carelessness of an individual or company is even worse. Sometimes the only way the make things right for you and your family is to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you need a lawyer, we can help. Our website provides a large database of attorneys who can represent you.
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