Tragedies happen more than they should in this life. When someone dies as a result of another person or entity’s negligence, justice must be served. Families will likely want to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible.
Such a lawsuit will seek damages and compensation for the family’s loss. This can include lost wages, funeral expenses, and more.
In the wake of such a tragedy, it’s hard to know which way is up. Is the death of your loved one legally considered wrongful death? We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about wrongful death claims below.
What Does The Law Consider A Wrongful Death?
One brings a wrongful death claim to court when a person dies due to the legal fault of another individual or entity. There are hundreds of thousands of such situations in a given year. It’s determining the idea of legal fault that becomes so tricky in most wrongful death cases.
Wrongful death is a relatively new concept in the American legal system. It was instituted over the last country in courts of all sizes and jurisdictions. Today, every state in the country has laws that cover wrongful death.
Car accidents, medical malpractice, and other such incidents all frequently fall under the umbrella of wrongful death. In most cases, negligence is a key factor in determining if an individual or entity is at legal fault when it comes to death.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
Many people feel the effect of the death of an individual. Our lives touch many, and family, friends, co-workers, and more may be deeply affected and saddened by such a loss.
But who is legally allowed to step up and file a lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is filed by a survivor who has suffered damages as a result of the victim’s death. Who these individuals might vary from state to state.
In most cases, immediate family members will be the ones to bring the case to court. Spouses, children, and parents can recover damages under wrongful death laws in all states across the country.
In some states, domestic life partners and financial dependents have a right to such damages. And in only some states can more distant family members, like siblings, aunts, and uncles, and so forth, file such a case.
There are a few states that allow anyone with proof of financial suffering to sue. They do not have to have any blood relation to the individual to do so.
Determining Legal Fault
Most individuals and entities across the United States can be found guilty in a wrongful death case. Individuals involved in accidental deaths can be found guilty, but often so can manufacturers, designers, businesses, and establishments.
In some states, certain government agents or agencies have immunity against wrongful death claims.
In order to successfully receive damages for a wrongful death case, a number of things must be proved. An individual must have died, and it must be the result of another’s negligence. The survivors must have proof of financial suffering, and have been officially appointed to represent the deceased.
Proving negligence can be difficult. The court must establish duty, breach, cause in fact, and damages when proving that negligence has occurred. You should learn more about negligence and catastrophic injuries before trying to make a case.
It is possible for multiple parties to be negligent in a particular case. For example, both a driver and the manufacturer of a road could be found legally negligent in a wrongful death case.
Determining legal negligence can be tricky and requires the help of a trained legal professional. Make sure you have quality representation on your side when attempting to file a wrongful death suit.
Determining Damages For Wrongful Death
There are three types of damages that will be available in a wrongful death suit. They are economic, punitive, and non-economic.
Economic damages intend to replace the financial contribution that the individual would have brought to the survivors. This includes lost wages, benefits, and loss of potential inheritance. It also includes the costs of funeral and death services.
Non-economic damages include less tangible effects like emotional pain and suffering. They are damages intended to supplement the loss of guidance, love, and companionship the survivors would have received from the deceased.
Punitive damages aren’t available in every wrongful death suit. They intend to punish the defendant for bad behavior or extreme negligence. In some situations, the victims can have their attorney fees covered by the defendant.
Calculating the exact value of such damages can be extremely difficult. Loss of life isn’t easily quantifiable in terms of money, and there can be much debate and negotiation in determining such an amount.
That’s why it’s so important for those suing for wrongful death to have proper legal representation. Wrongful death damages can be slippery and it’s important for victims to get the amount that they rightfully deserve.
Often, expert witnesses and economists come in to offer their professional opinion on the proper damage amount. This process can include lengthy and often stressful calculations.
Do You Have A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Losing a loved one can be a terribly difficult time for anyone. The loss of a companion can be debilitating and disorienting. But it’s important to look at the facts surrounding your loved one’s death and determine if a wrongful death has occurred.
If it has, your family has the right to bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit and receive the damages they deserve.
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