If you lost a loved one because a person or company acted recklessly or negligently, your family may have the legal right to seek compensation as a form of justice. With the help of a wrongful death lawyer, you may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party who caused your family member’s death. Schedule a free consultation with our wrongful death lawyer to discuss your legal options. Below is a general overview of the laws involving litigation for a wrongful death.
What is a wrongful death?
Wrongful death statutes allow for a representative of a deceased victim or their estate to file a lawsuit for civil damages. Depending on the circumstances, damages might include grief for the loss of the loved one, medical costs associated with treating the victim’s fatal injury, and more. When a family works with an experienced wrongful death lawyer, the family’s damages will be itemized and detailed as part of the lawsuit.
As mentioned, damages associated with the loss of a loved one will be submitted to the judge and jury as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s an unfortunate fact that no matter how large a settlement might be, nothing will reverse events and bring back the family’s loved one. However, a fair settlement offers the family the opportunity to pay for the financial damages so that they are not burdened with the cost of paying for the funeral and other costs. In many cases, the guilty party is additionally punished with having to pay punitive damages. This can bring some sense of closure to a family because punitive damages send a clear message that such abhorrent behavior is not acceptable.
Eligibility for Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The laws surrounding wrongful death lawsuits limit the plaintiffs to a narrow group of people. A wrongful death lawyer can provide additional clarity but as a general rule, the person who files the lawsuit must have been financially dependent in some way on the deceased. Usually, a court will rule that persons related to the deceased in the following order are eligible to pursue legal action against the at-fault party:
- Spouse, common law spouse, etc.
- Financially dependent children.
- Financially dependent siblings.
- Parents of a deceased fetus. (This is not always applicable so be sure to consult a wrongful death lawyer in your state.)
Possible Defendants in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Depending on the circumstances of how your loved one passed away, your wrongful death lawyer may identify one or more defendants in a lawsuit. The person or entity might include any of the following:
- An individual
- A company or corporation.
- An employee or staff member.
- A government agency.
Discover Your Legal Rights
Your family may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your loved one’s death. Talk to an experienced wrongful death lawyer to learn what legal rights you have and if a lawsuit is a possibility.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Cannon, Hadfield, Stieben & Doutt for their insight into wrongful death cases.