You’ve just suffered an unimaginable loss of a much-loved family member. The person’s unexpected death has been made so much more tragic and harder to bear because it was a wrongful death—meaning their death could have been prevented or avoided.
In these situations, it is important for the family to learn more about wrongful death claims and how they work. Unfortunately, these types of deaths can not only leave you burdened with sorrow but also with financial pressures.
What constitutes a wrongful death?
Any accident or negligence that leads to a fatality is a wrongful death. This also includes medical malpractice on the part of doctors, hospitals, or other health professionals. Wrongful death claims are handled as civil actions rather than criminal actions. Close relatives and dependents (usually spouse and children) of the wronged individual are usually the family members to file the civil claim. Even the deceased person’s estate can file these claims. In certain situations, the state may also criminally prosecute the person responsible for the wrongful death. The state will bring a criminal prosecution for murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide such as in the case of drunk driving. Additionally, the person responsible can also be sued. Basically, all three of these actions can take place in certain cases.
Individuals as well as companies that have caused wrongful death can be sued. For example, families have successfully sued tobacco companies for wrongful death. The most common causes of wrongful death are intentional acts, medical malpractice, automobile and pedestrian accidents, and product liability.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
Typically, spouses, children, and parents file wrongful death claims. The surviving spouse most often files a claim, but claims can also be filed on behalf of minor children left behind. Parents of minor children who have been negligently killed can also file a wrongful death claim.
How can a wrongful death claim help?
An attorney can file a wrongful death claim to provide the family with compensation to help with some of the financial pressure. By no means will money bring back your lost loved one, but the compensation can help you with costs, lost wages, and can even help you find a sense of justice and closure to the issue by holding the responsible party accountable.
Two categories of damages are typically awarded. The first type allows damages to be recovered over the period of time from the accident to the person’s eventual death. For example, damages could be recovered from the moment of the car accident to the person’s death hours, days or years later.
The second category covers damages for family survivors and is meant to compensate the family for the financial loss. Basically, these damages cover money the deceased person would have earned if they were still alive—things like lost wages and other forms of income. Some states allow a third category for emotional suffering called “loss of consortium,” involving the family being deprived of the person’s love and companionship. These types of damages are typically awarded when minor children are left behind by a parent’s death. Courts can also award punitive damages in certain wrongful death circumstances of particularly reckless conduct that resulted in a death. The sole purpose of punitive damages is to punish the responsible party as to deter this type of future behavior.
Laws differ from state to state regarding wrongful death claims. There are various categories of damages (monetary compensation), and each state has specific rules, including who can file and when these claims can be filed.
The party filing the claim must provide solid evidence that the death resulted from either negligence or malpractice, or some other crime. Furthermore, the filing party must show the financial effect this death has had on future earnings and quality of life. All of these factors will be considered in the final award of damages. Because the filing party must provide these pieces of evidence, an experienced wrongful death attorney is a critical person you need on your team going forward.
How do I find the right attorney to help?
You want a compassionate wrongful death attorney—one who knows how painful it is to lose a loved one. You also want an attorney who is knowledgeable and who can ensure that the civil claim is handled as efficiently and quickly as possible to spare you further grief. The attorney should be well versed in providing you the compensation you will need for burial expenses, medical expenses, and lost income to ensure your financial future.
At The Jones Firm, we specialize in these cases. We sincerely have a desire to help families undergoing this struggle. We definitely want you to receive the compensation and justice you deserve. Our expertise in this area has allowed us to become experts in wrongful death claims.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to wrongful death, our hearts go out to you and we are sorry for your loss. Let us help you with the financial part, and help you seek justice and closure. Please contact us so that we may help you to receive the compensation you deserve.