A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of personal injury lawsuit that holds a negligent party responsible for causing the death of an individual. While the emotional implications of a wrongful death lawsuit are very difficult for surviving family members to deal with, understanding the mechanics of how a wrongful death lawsuit works is a simple process.
Anything that applies in a personal injury lawsuit will also apply in a wrongful death lawsuit. Families should understand the basics of how a wrongful death lawsuit works in the event that they need to hold a negligent party responsible for a loved one’s death.
Filing A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
An estate or family of a deceased individual would file a wrongful death lawsuit if a loved one’s death was the result of:
- The intentional actions of an individual (for example, the family of a murder victim could sue the person accused of the murder)
- The negligence of someone else (for example, the family of someone who died after falling down a flight of stairs could sue the building where the event happened if the building did not properly maintain its stairs)
- Medical malpractice (for example, a family could sue a doctor if that doctor’s misdiagnosis lead to the death of a family member)
What You Have To Prove
A wrongful death lawsuit is exactly like a personal injury lawsuit in that it is up to the victim to prove that the defendant was negligent. If someone is killed in a one-car auto accident due to the negligence of the driver, then it is up to the victim’s family to prove that the driver caused the death through their negligence.
The idea of proving negligence in a wrongful death lawsuit is extremely important in determining whether or not the suit is successful. A slip and fall accident that resulted in someone’s death could turn out to be a wrongful death lawsuit if it is found that the conditions that created the slip and fall could have been prevented by proper property maintenance.
Who Can File The Lawsuit?
Each state has different rules when it comes to who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, but in every state it is true that:
- A spouse can sue for the wrongful death of their spouse
- A child can sue for the wrongful death of a parent
- A parent can sue for the wrongful death of a child
The areas that can vary from state to state include:
- Parents suing for the death of an older child
- Siblings filing wrongful death suits
- Common law spouses suing for wrongful death
- The rights of grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins to file a suit
Damages That Can Be Won
The types of damages that can be won in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
- The pain and suffering of the deceased before they passed away
- Medical expenses associated with the deceased
- Funeral costs
- Income of the deceased lost due to the negligent actions of the defendant
- The potential for a lost inheritance for family members
- The loss of guidance and care that shuld have been provided to surviving children
- The loss of companionship for a surviving spouse
A wrongful death lawsuit is a difficult type of process for any family member to start, but it can often be necessary in helping a family to cope with the loss of a loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit can also help a family to get its own form of justice if the family feels that the responsible party did not get the punishment they deserved from the criminal justice system.