The death of a loved one is a challenging life event to endure. This could be more upsetting if the negligence of another caused your loved one’s death. If this is the case and you and the decedent’s other loved ones have suffered due to their passing, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a personal injury lawsuit in which the family or loved ones of the deceased are in the process of seeking financial compensation related to the decedent’s passing. Wrongful death lawsuits can only be pursued if the negligence of another caused the decedent’s death, and more specifically, someone who was, in some way, responsible for the deceased. This can range from various incidents, including car accidents, medical malpractice, and other forms of negligence that may cause someone to lose their life. Some necessary elements that need to be proven in order to file a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- Death- A wrongful death claim can only stand if the person injured has died. A wrongful death suit cannot be filed if they are still alive in severe or critical conditions.
- The defendant’s negligence- It must be established that the defendant had some standard of duty of care and that they breached it. Furthermore, this breach must be the direct cause of the decedent’s death. An example of this could be a person running a red light and crashing into another car. Had the defendant not been negligent, the accident never would have happened.
- The plaintiff suffered because of the loss of their loved one- The plaintiff must have been affected by the decedent’s death in some way. Typically, the plaintiff is involved financially, as they were in some part dependent on the decedent’s income.
- The plaintiff has a right to recover damages- Each state has different laws pertaining to which family members have a legal right to recover damages. The plaintiff must make sure they are within their legal rights to recover compensation on behalf of the deceased.
Depending on the victim’s life circumstances, many parties can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent. Though the people eligible to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the decedent can vary from state to state, the following people are typically able to file a claim:
- Immediate family members- This includes any spouses and children, including the decedent’s adopted children. If they were unmarried, the decedent’s parents might file the lawsuit themselves.
- Life partners- This includes the decedent’s domestic partner at the time before their passing.
- Putative spouses- This is a partner who had good faith belief that they were married to the decedent.
- Financial dependents- This includes anyone financially dependent on the decedent before their passing.
- Distant family members- Distant family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit in some states. This includes any siblings and grandparents.
Any other party who suffered financially due to the decedent’s untimely passing may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The plaintiff in the case should be the one closest to the victim with the most substantial ties to them. In wrongful death situations, typically, immediate family members are the ones to file the initial claim for the passing of their loved one due to the defendant’s negligence.
Proving a defendant was negligent can take a lot of expertise and proper evidence. The plaintiff needs to provide proof surrounding the defendant’s negligence and confirm that the defendant had some duty of care to the victim and was in direct breach of that. This can be a tricky case to prove as such specific evidence is needed, which is why hiring an attorney is recommended.
Damages and Settlement
Settlement amounts will significantly vary depending on the situation surrounding the victim’s untimely death. Certain damages experienced by the victim and their family can warrant a higher compensation. Certain damages that may impact the settlement amount include:
- Pain and suffering on behalf of the decedent before they passed
- Any medical treatment that the deceased had due to the accident before passing
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of the deceased’s income
There are many other situations and circumstances that may supply additional damages to your settlement amount. If you have any questions about what damages you can include in your case, it is best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
Get Legal Help
Hiring a personal injury attorney to assist you with your claim can significantly help you relieve a lot of stress surrounding your lawsuit. While hiring an attorney may seem out of your league, there are many great benefits to doing so, including:
- They can save you time and money- Handling your claim on your own can cause you a great deal of stress, especially since you may not know what you’re doing. An experienced personal injury attorney is familiar with the process you will need to undergo and can skillfully handle it for you so that everything is done in a shorter amount of time.
- They understand the legal process- An excellent personal injury attorney has detailed knowledge of what needs to be done surrounding your case. They will be aware of deadlines, make sure all legal documents are prepared correctly, and know any statute of limitations in your state.
- They know how much your claim is worth- While you may be unsure about the worth of your claim, an experienced personal injury attorney will have a good idea of how much value your claim holds. They can accurately view your situation and how its impact on you may directly affect your settlement.
- They can support you- During the legal process, your attorney should provide you with a great deal of support. Their job is to handle your case and alleviate some of your stress so you can grieve the loss of your loved one and not have to worry about legal proceedings.
Due to all of the benefits that a reasonable attorney can provide you, it is recommended that those seeking a wrongful death claim hire an experienced and licensed attorney to handle it for them.
If your loved one has wrongfully died due to another person’s negligence, contact the experts at The Eichholz Law Firm. Our personal injury attorneys are well-equipped to handle your case and ensure that your case is dealt with carefully and professionally. You can call us at 855-551-1019 or fill out our online form here.