If you are grieving the death of a loved one due to the negligent actions of another, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Through this lawsuit, you and the other close surviving family members may receive compensation for your losses. These losses are not only for the medical expenses and funeral costs of the deceased but also for the loss of companionship, wages, and other losses. Lawyers Hipskind & McAninch want to remind you that at a time when you are feeling devastated by this person’s passing, you should be able to lean on a team of compassionate attorneys that can help you and your family fight for your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.
What are some examples of cases involving wrongful death?
When someone dies due to the misconduct or negligent behavior of someone else, you may have a wrongful death case on your hands. An example could be when they lose their life in a car accident where the other driver is at fault. Also, a bartender who served alcohol to an individual who then leaves the bar to get in their car and drive away; a patient who dies due to medical malpractice; or a business owner who fails to maintain a safe premises for visitors.
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
There are different requirements as to who can file a wrongful death claim depending on the state where you live. However, in general terms, immediate family members are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, it is the surviving spouse who files. When the person who died is a minor child, their parents are allowed to file. Other family members who can file are adult and unmarried children, and some states also allow siblings, grandparents, or even aunts and uncles to do so.
There are cases in which family disputes result in more than one wrongful death claim being filed by different family members who cannot agree on the best way to proceed. However, judges will only allow one claim for the same individual, and they may consolidate all claims into one.
When can wrongful death claims arise?
When the person who died could have filed a claim against whoever caused their death through negligent actions, a wrongful death can be filed. There are several situations in which this may happen, such as when:
One Person Intentionally Kills Another
In cases of murder, the defendant will face a criminal charge in a separate criminal case. However, the surviving family members may bring forth a wrongful death claim against the defendant in a civil case.
There is Medical Malpractice
Suppose a medical practitioner fails to diagnose a condition, provides them with the wrong treatment, gives them the wrong medications, or is careless in any other way. In that case, survivors may be allowed to file a wrongful death claim against the doctor or other medical providers.
The Death is The Result of a Car Accident
If, after an investigation into the accident, it is discovered that the person who caused it was negligent, maybe because they were intoxicated, driving recklessly, texting or distracted while driving, the surviving family members may file a wrongful death suit against the driver at fault.
What elements must be present in a wrongful death lawsuit?
The elements that must be present for a wrongful death lawsuit to proceed are:
- The death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intent to cause harm to the victim.
- This death may have brought on monetary losses for the surviving family members.
- A personal representative must be appointed to the estate of the decedent.
Also, whoever files this lawsuit must do so within the statute of limitations of the state where the person lived. An extension of time may be granted if the investigation into the death does not reveal important facts until after this time has passed.
Pecuniary damages that may be recovered by the family members who have filed the wrongful death claim may include medical and funeral expenses, loss of services and financial support, and a lost prospect of an inheritance, as well as any other financial injuries that have arisen as a direct result of this person having lost their life. However, the burden of proof in a wrongful death case, may be quite complex. Consult with a wrongful death attorney before you decide to file.