Losing a loved one is devastating under any circumstances. Losing a parent or child, however, due to negligence or an intentional act by another person can make the suffering unbearable. While nothing can bring them back, a “wrongful death” claim can hold the liable party accountable regardless of whether he or she is convicted in a criminal proceeding.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action, usually brought by close family members of the victim or a representative of the deceased person’s estate. Valid claims can stem from personal injury situations where the victim is killed, such as car accidents, medical malpractice events, and even murder.
Every state has its own wrongful death laws, but certain elements can apply everywhere:
- A human being dies
- Another person’s negligence or intent to harm caused the death
- Survivors are harmed by the loss of the victim
- The survivors suffer monetary injuries as a result of the death
Most wrongful death lawsuits follow related criminal trials and use the same evidence, though a lower burden of proof may apply. If a claim alleges negligence, then the plaintiff and his or her attorney will need to be able to show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the duty was violated and it led to the victim’s death, and that the death caused recoverable damages to the victim’s survivors.
Survivors may be eligible for compensation according to certain categories of loss, including, but not necessarily limited to, pain and suffering, medical treatment costs, lost earnings, and loss of care, love and companionship. The amount awarded may depend on various factors, such as the survivor’s relationship to the deceased, the likely income of the deceased person, and even the replacement value of the decedent’s services to the survivor. Courts may also decide to award punitive damages to survivors if it is determined that the defendant was reckless or grossly at fault.
If you have lost a loved one due to negligence or an intentional act by another person, we want you to know that our experienced team of local attorneys are here for you and your family. You are not alone. Do not wait to contact us to schedule a free case evaluation.