Death of any kind can be a real tragedy. It can be hard to dope with the early death of a loved one or friend. It can be especially hard to deal with this loss when death feels avoidable, or when it was caused by the negligence of another entity.
When this happens, it is known under the United States law as wrongful death. In some situations, the surviving members of the deceased’s family can bring a lawsuit forward against those responsible for this death. What is a wrongful death lawsuit and how does it work?
It can be complicated. Read on, and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
There are various circumstances wherein someone might pass away due to the acts of another entity. Situations where an individual would have a personal injury claim if they had not passed away? Often, these cases can be tried as a wrongful death case instead.
Wrongful death is a civil case, as opposed to a criminal one. For example, if someone committed murder, they could be tried as a criminal for the act of murder. But a surviving family member could also sue them in civil court for the pain and suffering and loss of income caused by the loss of this family member.
The more common occurrences are where the death of an individual was caused by the negligence of another party. This could be the case in a medical malpractice situation, in a car accident, or due to poor conditions in the workplace.
It could also be a product malfunction or the result of a different kind of criminal activity.
It could be many other things too, these are just a few common examples. A wrongful death claim can arise from a wide variety of things, and just about any kind of personal injury situation.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Not just anyone can bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit. The estate of the deceased individual would need to appoint a representative for the estate’s legal affairs. This representative must have a specific relationship to the deceased, although the rules around this relationship vary from state to state.
In some states, this representative must be a direct relative to the deceased. In other states, the relationship might be allowed to be more tenuous. In most situations, the representative must prove that they have had financial loss due to the death of the deceased individual.
For example, in some states, the romantic partner of the individual killed can bring a claim forward, while in other states they will be unable to. Generally speaking, the further a familial connection someone has to the deceased, the more difficult it will be to bring a claim forward.
Damages That Can Be Claimed
When a representative does bring a case forward, there are a number of damages of which they can sue for. First, there are more easily quantifiable costs. This includes the medical bills associated with the person’s injuries and their eventual death.
It also pertains to the funeral and burial costs for the deceased individual. A surviving representative will be able to ask for compensation for all of these when bringing a lawsuit forward.
In addition, they will be able to sue for the support lost when that person was taken from their life. This includes emotional support as well as financial. The expected income and wages of the individual will be considered, but so will the lack of emotional support, guidance, and nurturing.
It can be very difficult to put a hard dollar amount to these impossible to value qualities. An attorney with experience in wrongful death cases can help to properly determine the potential value of a given case.
It’s important to talk to a wrongful death attorney early on in the process to ensure one gets the compensation they deserve. Insurance companies will likely try to low ball surviving family members when trying to settle out of court.
Don’t have an itchy trigger finger when it comes to accepting these settlement offers. An experienced attorney will ensure you get the full compensation amount that you are entitled to.
The Burden Of Proof
Valuating a case isn’t the only reason to bring a wrongful death attorney to your case. You will also need to ensure someone is on your side that can help put together a winning combination of evidence and strategy.
In order to successfully hold a defendant liable under the law, one must be able to prove that they were guilty of the death of the deceased. The burden of proof in this situation is the same as it would have been if the person would have survived.
In this kind of case, attorneys on both sides will approach it the same way they would have a normal personal injury case, at least far as placing blame for the injuries and death goes. It can be difficult to prove negligence, and it’s important to work with an attorney to gather the proper evidence.
The evidence needed to prove negligence or fault will vary depending on the situation at hand.
Wrongful Death Claims
What is a wrongful death lawsuit? It’s a claim brought against an entity that has caused the death of another individual in a personal injury case. The above information should fill you in on anything you need to know about these types of cases.
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