Why People File Wrongful Death Claims

Losing someone close is always difficult, especially when that death is sudden and unexpected. When the death was caused by the negligence of another, the grief can be compounded by anger and a search for justice. It often results in filing a wrongful death claim.

A wrongful death claim may provide important information to help loved ones understand what happened and may answer the horrible question that is always asked:  “Why did this happen to my family or my loved one.”   Although no claim or civil suit can ever replace the person that is lost a claim can help a family deal with the devastating loss.  The claim can at times help provide closure and a claim may be able to help financially compensate the family of the deceased.to help support the spouse, children and those dependent on the deceased.  It may provide answers the family is searching for. It can restore a sense of justice and serve to honor the deceased. It can also be a part of the healing process following a wrongful death.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death is one that has occurred due to negligence or wrongful actions of another. Wrongful death claims may be filed against an individual or group, or even against an institution like a hospital, nursing home, place of business or workplace where the death may have occurred. Examples of situations where wrongful death claims may be filed include:

  • A fatal car accident where someone else was at fault.
  • The death of a person that resulted from having the wrong medications prescribed.
  • A death resulting from the use of a faulty product.
  • When a person is mortally wounded from machinery at work.
  • When a death occurs following an improperly conducted medical procedure or surgery.

Frequently, more than one party may be the subject of a claim. Take, for example, a death caused by a driver operating a company-owned vehicle. The driver may be at fault, as may be the company who owned the vehicle if it wasn't properly maintained or if the employee wasn't screened properly. The keys to a successful wrongful death claim are determining the causes of the death and identifying all parties that may be responsible.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

Generally, wrongful death claims may be filed only by close members of the family of the deceased. This will often include parents, spouses and children, including those who may have been adopted. If the claim is being filed on behalf of a deceased child and the parents are still living, both parents may file. In some cases, a representative of the estate will file the claim, with proceeds split between beneficiaries of the estate should the claim be successful.

What Types of Damages are Sought in Wrongful Death Claims?

The types of damages sought in wrongful death claims will often depend on whether the claim is filed upon the death of an adult or a child and what state the claim the event occurred in that caused the death.   When the claim is filed following the death of an adult, financial restitution may be sought for:

  • Medical expenses as a result of the negligence. These can include emergency transportation, hospital and medical facility costs, and doctor and related expenses.
  • Final expenses, including all funeral and burial expenses.
  • The costs of filing the wrongful death claim, including attorney's fees.
  • Lost wages and benefits the deceased would likely have earned.
  • However, often the greatest injury is the loss of love and companionship.
  • There may be claims for loss of parental guidance for minor children,
  • There are other possible injury claims depending on who was present when the injury occurred

In instances where claims are being filed after the death of a minor or dependent child, financial compensation may include:

  • Medical expenses as a result of the negligence.
  • Final expenses, including funeral and burial costs.
  • The loss of any services the child may have provided.
  • Any psychological counseling for the family that may have resulted from the child's death.
  • The loss of love and companionship of the child.
  • Any costs, including legal fees, associated with administering the deceased's estate.
  • Any debts the child may have that a parent may now be obligated to pay.

While suing for pain and suffering and emotional distress are generally not allowable in a wrongful death lawsuit, they are frequently considered as part of the loss of love and companionship.

Getting the Legal Assistance You Deserve

Filing a wrongful death claim can be an important part of finding closure following the death of a loved one. It is important you seek the assistance of caring professionals who are experienced in this area of law. Make sure the attorneys you meet with have a track record of handling these types of cases and getting results for their clients.


From the Author: Wrongful Death Claims