The death of a loved one caused by another person’s gross negligence or blatant misconduct can take a heavy toll on both your mental health and financial prospects. Learn what you need to file a wrongful death lawsuit and what damages you can easily recover. Your pain and suffering have a price tag too. Don’t let the ones responsible for your loved one’s wrongful death get away with it.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against a person or entity whose negligence or wrongful acts have caused the death of another person. A wrongful death lawsuit should not be mistaken for criminal prosecution. This is a civil lawsuit that allows the close relatives or financial dependents of the victim of a wrongful death recover civil damages for their loss and suffering.
The most common wrongful death cases brought before a court include motor vehicle accidents in which a person is killed because of either a negligent or intoxicated driver or poor road conditions that could have been amended by the local municipality and lawsuits against negligent health care professionals that caused the death of their patients.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim can be filed by anyone who is eligible to recover for damages if they suffered harm in the wake of the wrongful death. These people may include any eligible survivors and members of the family, such as children, spouses, and parents (if the decedent was not married and had no children.)
The people eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit vary from one state to another, but in all states, the close family members mentioned above are eligible. In a handful of states, financial dependents, siblings, and even grandparents are eligible to file such lawsuit too as long as they have been directly harmed by the wrongful death.
Through the so-called “survival action,” survivors may bring a wrongful death claim even if the decedent did not die in the accident and was able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent person.
What Do I Need for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you need to prove that:
· The wrongful death was directly caused by another person’s or entity’s negligence or intentional misconduct.
· The decedent has eligible survivors to recover compensation for the resulting damages.
· The eligible survivors suffered emotional and/or financial harm because of the wrongful death.
· A personal representative of the decedent’s estate has been appointed (in certain cases).
Eligible parties can recover economic damages such as medical expenses with the decedent’s treatment, funeral expenses, lost wages, loss of support, out-of-pocket expenses, and so on. For instance, if the decedent has underage children, the children’s representative may sue for the loss of financial support, including child support, and of parental guidance.
Make sure that you don’t throw away any receipts, medical bills, and other proof of out-of-pocket expenses when filing such a lawsuit.
Aside from hiring a seasoned wrongful death attorney, you might need to hire an independent expert to perform an audit in order to properly estimate the lost income based on the decedent’s estimated life expectancy.
Eligible survivors may recover damages for their pain and suffering, as well, and file for punitive damages if your state permits it. When seeking punitive damages, you don’t have to prove any harm caused by the wrongful death but you may need to prove gross negligence or intentional wrongful behavior by the defendant.
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by any eligible survivors of a person killed by another person’s or entity’s negligence or misconduct. Having a lawyer your family can trust offers a sense of security when bringing a wrongful death claim, especially when hefty medical bills, lost income, and costly funeral expenses are at stake. Your pain and suffering may have a price too, but only a seasoned attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve.