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How Does A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Work?

Wrongful death is when someone dies because of the negligent or intentional act of another person. If the plaintiff is confident enough to prove wrongful death, they can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the accused.

The one who can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the deceased person varies from state to state. It could be the surviving family member, close relatives, or even friends in some cases.

When Is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit Applicable?

A 'personal injury claim' can also turn into a wrongful death lawsuit when the victim is killed due to the defendant’s wrongful action. The most common personal injury claim when it comes to wrongful death lawsuit are car accidents. However, a variety of situations can lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Some of these options include:

When A Person Is Killed Intentionally

The victim’s family can also start a civil case against the defendant, all and above the criminal case that has been ongoing on the same person.

When A Victim Dies As A Result Of Medical Malpractice/Negligence

Instances when the victim dies due to a false diagnosis of a doctor or when the doctor prescribes the wrong medication are also covered under the case of wrongful death lawsuits. In any circumstance, if the victim dies due to negligence on the part of the doctor, it is possible to file a lawsuit of wrongful death against such a doctor.

Automobile Accidents

If the victim dies due to any road accidents, primarily car accidents due to another person's rash driving, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed.

Mostly all personal injury claims can be claimed through wrongful death lawsuits except when the personal injury situation arises at a workplace. In such a case, it would be dealt with under the workplace’s compensation system.

How To Prove A Wrongful Death Case?

There are specific ways to prove a wrongful death claim and make the defendant pay for the compensation.

The plaintiff in such a case has to provide the burden of proof, the same as the victim would have produced had he been alive. The plaintiff in such cases can also ask for monetary compensation if the victim was the sole breadwinner of the family.

The plaintiff or the plaintiff's lawyer has to find ways to prove the defendant’s negligence. This could be through video recordings, documents, or through ways possible. He should also prove that the defendant performed a breach of duty which was the proximate cause of the death. Also, it must be proved that the victim's death has caused the plaintiff the physical, emotional, and financial hardships that the defendant is looking to recover through monetary compensation.

Who Exactly Is Liable To File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

When the victim in the wrongful death is no more, his/her representative of the estate has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant.

This representative of the estate can vary according to the case and also state to state. However, in all cases and states, the spouse has the full right to sue the defendant with a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of his deceased spouse and claim the rightful compensation.

If the victim was a minor, the victim's parents have the right to bring wrongful death action to the court. Similarly, a minor child also has a right to receive compensation if the parents died due to wrongful death action.

However, some states start to differ whether the adult children and their parents can sue for wrongful death, respectively. They also differ when the case demands whether the grown siblings, extended relatives like cousins, aunts, or grandparents are allowed to act as representatives.

To act as a wrongful death lawsuit representative, the closer the familial relationship to the victim, the easier it is to file a lawsuit. However, in some states, even the victim’s romantic partner has a right to act as a representative in the case i.e., marriage isn’t a requirement in some states. The only requirement is the representative should be able to prove the financial dependence on the deceased person.

Not only that, in some states, they are allowed to get compensated for emotional injury as well.

What Compensations Can Be Asked From Wrongful Death Lawsuits?

Here are all the reasons for which you can be compensated on behalf of the victim in wrongful death:

  • Deceased person’s pre-death suffering
  • Medical treatment expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Loss of the expected income
  • Loss of inheritance
  • Loss of care, love, guidance, and nurturing

If you wish to learn more about wrongful death lawsuits or someone you know has suffered from a similar incident, and are looking for an experienced attorney, contact us today.

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