Wrongful Death Common Questions
Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death claim is a lawsuit that can be filed when someone dies due to the fault of someone else. It may be filed by the survivors of the deceased. Let’s explore the components of a wrongful death lawsuit in a little more detail.
Wrongful Death Claim Defined
It is important to note that every state has their version of a wrongful death law, so it is critical to discuss the particulars of the laws in the state where you wish to file a wrongful death claim. Your wrongful death attorney will explain how the laws pertain to your specific case. The wrongful death suit comes into play when someone dies because of the actions of someone else. Wrongful death claims can come as a result of a fatal car crash, product liability, medical malpractice, etc.
The claim must be filed on behalf of the survivors of the deceased who have suffered damages as a result of their loved one’s death. A representative is typically the executor of the deceased’s estate. Only certain parties can file a claim. They include:
- Immediate family members, including spouses, children (even adopted children), and parents of children who were not married
- Those financially dependent
- Life partners or a person who had a certain belief that they were married to the victim
- Distant relatives such as grandparents, sisters, and brother
- Anyone who may be harmed financially because of the death may file a wrongful death claim for the lost support — they do not need to be family
Who can have Wrongful Death Claims filed against them?
- The attorney you choose to represent you will be able to discuss just who you would be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against depending upon the circumstances of the death. It can go beyond just the individual directly involved if there were other circumstances that contributed to the death. For example, if your loved one is killed by a drunk driver, not only could you sue the driver, but perhaps the owner of the location where the alcohol was given to them or even the individual who gave or sold alcohol to the driver.
What Kind of Damages are Available to the Claimants?
Typically there are three damage types that survivors may receive from a successful wrongful death suit:
Economic Damages – The value of the monetary contributions the deceased would have contributed to the family or survivors if they were still alive. These include:
- Lost wages of the victim
- Funeral Expenses
- Medical bills related to the death
- Benefits lost such as medical insurance or pensions
- Possible inheritance
- The cost of the services and goods that the deceased would have supplied to the survivors
Damages Non-Economic – These often are more valuable emotionally than monetarily:
- Pain and Suffering damages
- Loss of the advice, care, protection that the deceased would have provided
- Love and companionship lost
Attorneys Fees and Interest
Depending upon the states, the survivors can collect interest on the damages awarded beginning from when they occurred up to when they are dispersed. Even attorneys’ costs may be reimbursed.
Punitive Damages are given to penalize defendants who are found to have blatantly disregarded the law. Many times punitive damages are awarded to survivors of elders who die at the hands of nursing homes when elder abuse is proven.