A wrongful death claim arises when the negligence of a person or entity is the cause of a death of another person. If your loved one has been the victim in such a tragedy, although it is true that nothing will bring him or her back, there are important legal rights that you should be aware of.
A Civil Action
Although the same set of circumstances may result in the state filing criminal charges, a wrongful death claim is a civil law suit in which the sole remedy is monetary damages. You may file a civil claim while the criminal case is ongoing, or your wrongful death attorney may advise delaying until the conclusion of the state's case.
Close personal relatives of the deceased may be eligible to bring a wrongful death action, or it may be brought by the personal representative of the deceased's estate. Typically, a surviving spouse, domestic partner or child of the decedent may file a wrongful death claim, but in certain circumstances those who would have been entitled to receive property of the decedent through intestate succession or those financially dependent on the deceased may also be eligible.
Types of Damages
In general, there are two primary categories of damages available in a wrongful death action. The estate may collect damages for losses that the decedent could have collected if he or she had lived. For example, this may include such things as medical expenses as a result of the incident that resulted in the death, funeral and burial costs and the income that would reasonably have been earned by the deceased had he or she lived.
The family members or other eligible plaintiffs may recover for damages associated with loss of support and services, loss of financial support and loss of love, affection and companionship.
In rare case, it may be possible to assert a claim for punitive damages if the defendant's actions were particularly egregious.
Contact a Wrongful Death Lawyer for Legal Advice
The issues in a wrongful death claim are often complex and may involve multiple potential defendants who may share liability. Understand and protect your rights and seek justice for your loved one.