It can be incredibly difficult to cope with the loss of a loved one. If a family member’s loss is the result of another party’s incompetence or wrongdoing, it is only more difficult to deal with the pain. You may have the grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at fault party wherein you can receive the financial compensation to which your family is entitled.
From a legal perspective, it is important to acknowledge that the death of a loved one is a horrible event, and that assistance is often required to deal with the legal issues that arise. Wrongful death cases should be intensively prosecuted. That way, a substantial financial compensation can be rewarded. In most states, laws surrounding wrongful death cases are multifaceted. An experienced lawyer with expertise in these areas can help to build a winning case against the negligent parties.
When grieving, it can be uncomfortable to seriously discuss insurance claims, lawsuits, settlements, and finances. An experienced lawyer can assist with the legal process while showing sensitivity and compassion while filing a wrongful death lawsuit and making sure you are justly compensated for your loss.
Our lawyers can represent family members of wrongful death victims across a variety of law practice areas. These include but are not limited to car and truck accidents, medical malpractice, slips and falls, nursing home negligence, motorcycle accidents, DUI, criminal behavior, occupational exposure to hazardous materials, defective product issues, and problems with prescription drugs. While a financial settlement can never bring back a lost loved one, it can at least provide a family the means to move forward. Extra money can provide a college education, pay for medical care, and bring some security in a time where the future is never more uncertain.
Although time may seem to standstill during these difficult moments, try not to delay in hiring a wrongful death attorney. In most states, you have a two-year statute of limitations wherein a claim can be filed. Since these claims need strong evidence backing, it is important to act quickly to prevent the loss of evidence which inevitably happens over time. A qualified team of wrongful death lawyers will obtain police records, record witness statements, and deal with the insurance companies so that you can focus on the more important personal family matters.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
Despite states passing wrongful death statutes aimed at compelling businesses, hospitals, and doctors to act responsibly in their professional duties, wrongful death instances still occur.
In legal terms, a “wrongful death” occurs when a person passes away at the fault of another person. Filing lawsuits for wrongful death is a somewhat new concept and has only been allowed by federal courts during the last century. Now, even state in the US has some variation of wrongful death law.
These claims can involve cases ranging from fatal car accidents to extraordinary complex product liability or medical malpractice cases. Not only can other people be found to be legally at fault – companies and governmental agencies can also be found to have acted negligently.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims can only be filed by someone representing the survivors who’ve suffered from the person’s death, also known as “real parties in interest.” Most often, this representative is the executor of the deceased’s estate. But this varies from state to state. These “real parties in interest” may include:
- Spouses/Dependents – If a parent dies leaving a surviving spouse and/or dependent children, a wrongful death claim can be made for the financial loss suffered.
- Economic and financial loss is not limited to only earnings – loss of services as well as parental duties can also be claimed. In the case of the death of a child, loss of services to the parents may also be claimed. An experienced attorney that fully understands the nature of these loss statutes can prepare a case to recover the highest possible economic recovery.
- Life partners/Putative spouses/Financial dependents – Life partners or domestic partners, “putative spouses” (related to common-law marriages or ceremonial marriages, namely someone who in good faith believes he or she had a valid marriage to the victim), and any person who was financially dependent on the victim may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. Statutes vary from state to state.
- Immediate family members – In addition to spouses and dependents, parents of a unmarried child who has fallen victim in a wrongful death action can also file a claim.
- Other family members – In some states, distant family members such as grandparents or brothers and sisters can file wrongful death suits.
- Parents of deceased fetus – Also in some states, if a fetus dies as a result of negligence, it can be the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. In other states, the parents can only file suit if the child was actually delivered and then died later.
- Other persons who suffer financially – In some states, if a person suffers financial hardship due to a death, that person can file a wrongful death claim to for lost support or care. This is true even fi the person is not related to the victim by marriage or blood relations.
Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed against a variety of parties. These include other persons, governmental agencies, and businesses. For example, in a motorcycle accident involving a poorly maintained road and a drunk driver, the defendants in a wrongful death claim may include the drunk driver, the party responsible for maintaining the road, the establishment who sold alcohol to the driver, and/or the governmental agency responsible to provide a warning regarding the road’s condition. If a faulty mechanical part was the cause of the accident, a wrongful death claim can be filed against the part manufacturer, the distributor, and/or the person or company responsible for the part installation. These are just a few examples and should not be considered a complete list.