When a loved one dies unexpectedly, it can be a devastating experience. If their death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, it could be even more traumatic. In such cases, the deceased’s family can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the responsible party accountable and seek compensation for the damages caused. This guide will provide an overview of wrongful death lawsuits, including what they are, who can file them, and how to proceed.
What Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is civil action filed by the surviving family members or beneficiaries of a person who has died due to someone else’s negligence, intentional act, or wrongful conduct. The lawsuit seeks damages for losing a loved one and any financial losses resulting from the death.
The laws governing wrongful death lawsuits vary by state, but generally, they must meet certain criteria to succeed. The plaintiff must prove that defendant’s actions or inactions caused the death and that the death resulted in financial damages to the surviving family members or beneficiaries.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The laws governing who can file a wrongful death lawsuit vary by state. In most cases, immediate family members such as spouses, children, and parents can file a lawsuit. In some states, extended family members such as siblings or grandparents may also be eligible to file a lawsuit. If the deceased had a will, the estate executor might also file a lawsuit on behalf of the estate and its beneficiaries.
What Can Damages Be Recovered In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The damages that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit vary by state. In general, damages may include:
- Medical expenses related to the deceased’s final illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s income and future earning potential
- Loss of the deceased’s companionship and support
Punitive damages punish the defendant for their actions and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
How To Proceed With A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If you believe you have a valid wrongful death claim, consult an experienced attorney. The attorney can help you determine if you have a case, who should file the lawsuit, and what damages you may be entitled to recover.
The first step in filing wrongful death lawsuit is to gather evidence to support your claim. This may include witness statements, medical records, police reports, and other documentation supporting your case. Your attorney will also investigate to gather additional evidence, such as accident reconstruction reports or expert testimony.
Once the evidence has been gathered, your attorney will file a complaint with the court on behalf of the plaintiff(s). The defendant will then be served a copy of the complaint and allowed to respond. Sometimes, the parties can reach a settlement agreement without a trial. The case will proceed to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.
Both parties will present their evidence and arguments to a judge or jury during the trial. The plaintiff must prove that defendant’s actions caused the death and that the death resulted in financial damages to the surviving family members or beneficiaries. If the plaintiff is successful, the judge or jury will award damages to the plaintiff.
Wrongful death lawsuits are a way for the surviving family members or beneficiaries of a deceased person to seek justice and compensation for their loss. If you believe, your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence or intentional actions, it is important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. Your attorney can help you determine if you have a case, who should file the lawsuit, and what damages you may be entitled to recover. With their expertise, you can navigate the complex legal process and increase your chances of success.