If one of your loved ones has died in unusual circumstances then there is a chance someone else might be at fault. This is what is a wrongful death.
In common law countries such as the United Kingdom or other British based legal systems, it is not possible to sue an individual for wrongful death directly.
In the United States, however, which has adapted its legal system since the expulsion of the British in the 18th Century, it is possible for the courts to find someone responsible for a relatives’ death.
This is known as a wrongful death suit definition. Here’s what you can sue for and who can be sued in a wrongful death claim.
One example is the case of the alleged suicide of billionaire Jeffery Epstein. It may be possible for his relatives to sue the federal government for an unlawful death. This is because his death happened whilst he was in custody.
Who Was Involved in the Death?
The first thing to establish when suing for wrongful death is to establish who was there during your loved one’s death and what role they played.
If your loved one died from drowning in a swimming pool and a lifeguard was present it might be possible to sue them because they may have been preoccupied – for instance, they were looking on the phone – and this may have led to their death.
If your relative or friend died in a car accident then the driver of the other car might have been at fault or if they were a passenger and the driver survived they might be at fault.
Whilst at this stage you might not know whether a person is involved or not it is important to determine who was where and doing what.
What s a Wrongful Death? Incompetence
As well as determining who was there at the time of death, another factor to consider is whether anyone was at fault due to incompetence. Whether there was any incompetence is largely what wrongful deaths are there to determine.
This could include the builders who built a building if it collapsed on your loved one, employees from the local government or health and safety executives from a private company who did not properly warn against the dangers of the situation.
In fact, it is common for local governments to be sued in a wrongful death suit.
It could also mean suing your loved ones’ employers, if they breached federal or state employment laws, overworked them or refused them time off when they said they were sick.
In some circumstances, it could also mean the cleaner if they did not put out a proper sign and your friend or loved one slipped and fell to their death as a result.
You can also sue doctors if they did not carry out surgery to the required regulations, did not use the proper tools or they were too tired to carry out the surgery properly.
Wrongful Deaths – Criminal Behavior
If your loved one died, eg. as a result of being shot during an armed robbery or their deaths were as a result of criminal activity then other people involved in the crime could also be held liable.
U.S law states that you do not have to wait for the defendants in a trial to be found guilty regarding their specific criminal activity. You can bring a wrongful death suit against them whilst the criminal trial is continuing.
Gathering the Evidence
The most important aspect of a wrongful death claim – like any case – is gathering the evidence. To assist you and ensure you do things in the correct way you are going to need a wrongful death lawyer.
But you can be proactive in gathering evidence. You can make a note of all the people who were at the scene, track down any witnesses and compile their contact details, noting down car registration plates and getting hold of any relevant text messages your loved one may have sent
What Kind of Compensation Can You Get?
It is important to remember that a wrongful death suit definition is a civil case, not a criminal one. Whilst, of course, you will want justice for your loved ones, a civil case can only offer financial penalties and not custodial sentences.
Some of the types of compensation you can hope to recover include pain and suffering, to account for the mental pain you suffered as a result of losing someone close.
You can also recover medical bills and expenses if your loved one had to spend a lot of time in hospital but later could not be revived.
If the loved one who died was a close relative such as your mother, father or child then you may have needed to have spent time off work for grief. A wrongful death claim can cover these expenses and ensure you are not out of pocket.
There is also a claim for loss of companionship if the person you lost was a partner or spouse.
Be Sure to Act Now and Lawyer Up
Whilst, of course, the death of a loved one in such tragic circumstances is going to leave you overwhelmed and wanting to spend some time grieving, it is important to make sure you get a good lawyer as soon as possible.
In order to stand a good chance of success, you need to ensure that you get on top of the situation and identify the people involved as soon as possible so they do not escape justice.
Lawyers will collate the evidence swiftly and interview relevant witnesses as soon as possible to ensure their recollection does not fade over time.
What is a wrongful death? The simplest definition is that it stems from the incompetence of another individual or organization which could have prevented the death of a loved one.
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