A wrongful death claim is an incredibly traumatic experience that no one should ever have to endure. Though it’s difficult to know what to do in a time of crisis like this, there are several important actions that should be taken if you feel your loved one is the victim of wrongful death.
While there’s no amount of money that will ease the pain, contacting a wrongful death lawyer will help you win justice for your loved one. In the event that someone is at fault following the death of your family member, it’s time to contact a wrongful death attorney.
Understanding a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death refers to the death of a loved one that occurs as a result of another party’s actions or negligence. Family members of the victim can sue the at-fault party for wrongful death. This type of case seeks to gain compensation for the family members of the deceased that have incurred a loss. These losses can range from lost earnings and funeral expenses to lost companionship.
To file this type of suit, the victim’s family members must hire an attorney to prove that the victim died as a result of the negligent or wrongful act of the individual at fault. In a situation involving an intentional or negligent homicide, the prosecutor will be able to pursue criminal charges against the responsible party.
In many wrongful death cases, the deceased’s family will file a civil case against the at-fault party. In either situation, the deceased’s family is able to recover various damages. These damages cover the deceased’s suffering and pain before death, lost wages, and medical bills. Additionally, a jury is able to award certain compensation to cover any financial assistance or companionship lost after the deceased’s passing.
Personal Injury Law
Personal Injury Law is the law invoked in a wrongful death case. This tort law covers situations where an individual’s emotions, mind, and body are injured due to the negligence of someone else. Personal Injury Law covers wrongful death where an injury from this negligence is fatal.
With a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant is sued for causing the death or injury of the plaintiff and the defendant demands compensation. Typically, this compensation is a monetary payment.
The Components of a Wrongful Death Case
A wrongful death case has to prove that the defendant’s actions caused the deceased’s death. To win a wrongful death suit, the family of the deceased has to prove the following:
- The defendant is responsible for the victim’s death.
- The defendant was reckless, negligent, or was intentional in causing the victim’s death. Once can also prove that the accused is liable for the victim’s death.
- There are beneficiaries and dependents.
- The beneficiaries and dependents have suffered loss following the victim’s death.
Causes for Wrongful Death
When consulting with West Coast Trial Lawyers, clients will learn about the multiple causes of wrongful death. As wrongful deaths can be unintentional or intentional, the wrongful death attorney must prove that the defendant’s actions led to the death of the deceased.
The following are the most common causes of wrongful deaths:
- Birth injuries
- Product defects
- Supervised activities like adult daycare, field trips, and childcare
- Criminal actions like blatant violence, shootings, or stabbings
- Occupational exposure or on-the-job hazards
- Premises accidents
- Truck, automobile, or motorcycle accidents
- Product defects
- Medical malpractice
Who Should File Wrongful Death Suits?
The best person to file wrongful death suits is an individual from the deceased’s family. In many wrongful death cases, the person that files the claim is the executor of the victim’s estate.
As dependents and their beneficiaries vary from state to state, it’s important that family members know whether or not they qualify as dependents.
Immediate Family Members
The parents, kids, and spouses of the deceased are able to file wrongful death suits in all states. However, one must be able to prove they are dependents of the deceased.
Distant Family Members
In certain states, relatives like grandparents or siblings are able to file wrongful death cases.
For example, grandparents that are providing for a child are able to file a wrongful death claim.
Parents of a Dead Fetus
Certain states allow parents to file for wrongful death if their child dies as a fetus. The states that don’t allow such a suit let parents make wrongful death claims if their child is born alive then dies shortly thereafter.
Life Partners, Financial Dependents, and Putative Sources
Certain states allow a domestic or life partner, a putative spouse, or an individual that is a financial dependent to file a claim.
All Individuals Suffering Financially
In other states, all parties that are suffering financially as a result of the death of their loved one are able to file for wrongful death for lost care or support. This will apply even if the individuals aren’t related by marriage or blood.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death
Each state has its own statute of limitations for filing wrongful death suits. Research the time limits within your state to determine what the statute of limitations is in your situation.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations for wrongful death will take effect on the victim’s date of death though others take effect on the date the “discovery of harm” occurs.
For example, a doctor that fails to properly diagnose cancer and realizes several years later, the state of limitations will likely begin once their patient discovers they have cancer.
In the event a state’s statute of limitations has expired, it’s not possible to file for wrongful death.
Filing Wrongful Death Suits
When filing wrongful death suits, the attorney may try to settle the case by asking the defendant for compensation. However, if the case cannot be settled, the next step is to file a complaint that will start the process of pursuing a wrongful death case.
The individual that is filing the lawsuit must list the reasons they are suing the defendant. In doing so, the plaintiff’s complaint must also state what laws support their claims and the extent of the damages that are being demanded of the defendant.
After you’ve made the decision to file for wrongful death, a third party will serve the defendant your complaint. The defendant has a period of time to respond to the complaint as they must reply to the plaintiff’s claim. If a settlement cannot be reached, you will need to go to court.
With the help of West Coast Trial Lawyers, you’ll be able to make sure you have the strongest case to support your claims. Contact a wrongful death lawyer to get justice for your loved one today.
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