What Qualifies as Wrongful Death?
Updated: Jun 3
The Elements of a Wrongful Death
The misconduct or negligence of some might result in the injury or death of a person. In these types of cases, survivors or family members of the victim in an incident may sue for wrongful death. A wrongful death lawsuit seeks out compensation for the victim's family, which could include funeral expenses, loss of wages, and loss of companionship.
When Should You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
If a person dies due to another individual’s fault, a lawsuit of this nature can be filed. Some examples of persons at fault include a drunk driver, a business owner who failed in the upkeep of their premise, or a doctor who provided a preliminary diagnosis.
Each case is different, and the law in each state varies considerably. In most cases, the state defines who is allowed to sue for wrongful death and limits the amount given for compensation. The main reason these lawsuits are created is to provide financial support for widows or heir of the deceased.
When Does a Wrongful Death Apply?
There are multiple situations when a wrongful death claim may arise. Still, mainly it's when the victim’s family has to file a personal injury case against the accused due to their actions.
When a person intentionally kills another, family members may be able to open a wrongful death claim. For example, a defendant is going to face criminal charges for murdering the victim. The relatives of the victim may then bring forth a civil lawsuit against the defendant. You see, wrongful death is classified as a civil matter and is separate from a criminal case.
If a person dies for an undiagnosed condition that a doctor was aware of, or if the medical practitioner neglects the care of the victim, which then results in death, family members may file a wrongful death claim against the accused under the medical malpractice statutes.
If an individual dies due to a motor vehicle collision, and the court finds that the accident was due to negligent behavior from the opposing party, a wrongful death lawsuit may be opened. Driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and not obeying traffic laws are all examples of carelessness while on the road.
Bringing Forth a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
There are several elements that must be present when submitting a wrongful death lawsuit to the courts.
● If negligence or intended harm was the cause of a person’s death
● Monetary damages are related to the individuals passing for surviving members of the family
● Appointing a personal representative for the estate of the deceased.
A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within the time constraints set by the statute of limitation in the state which the person passed. There are cases where the St Louis injury claims can be opened after investigation if new evidence comes to light.
Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Monetary damages are the primary measure for wrongful death lawsuits. These kinds of damages include funeral expenses, loss of services, support, and a loss of the prospect of inheritance.
Typically, the state outlines who can receive damages and what the court deems fit in a wrongful death lawsuit. In most cases, states award fair compensation for anyone suffering directly from the death of their loved one.
If someone assumed responsibility for medical or funeral costs, these expenses might also be recovered.
Is It Hard to Prove Wrongful Death?
Overall a wrongful death lawsuit can be a lengthy and complex process. Your wrongful death attorney needs to gather evidence proving the elements of the claim. Expert witnesses whose services can cost hundreds of dollars can assist you with proving wrongful death. A wrongful death lawyer, in most cases, covers the upfront costs, and once you receive your settlement, they bill you.
How Does the Court Determine Wrongful Death Settlement Amounts?
A multitude of factors can determine your wrongful death settlement amount, including the age of the deceased. Damages such as funeral, burial, and medical bills are all taken into consideration too.
How Are Wrongful Death Compensations Paid Out?
Once a wrongful death lawsuit has been settled, the at-fault party's insurer sends out a check for the total amount to your lawyer. The attorney then deducts legal costs and fees that were incurred during your trial. Then they contact the survivors of the deceased to send them the amount as per the settlement agreement.
If you believe you may have a wrongful death case, contact the team at Powell Law, today.