What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim arises when the estate of a deceased person seeks damages from the defendant who is legally responsible for the deceased’s death. This type of claim is a unique type of personal injury lawsuit the deceased’s estate can file on behalf of surviving family members or other related parties if they feel the defendant’s deliberate harm or negligence caused the deceased’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most cases, wrongful death claims are filed by a representative of the deceased’s estate. This person files in favor of surviving individuals who had a close relationship with the deceased. However, just who these surviving individuals can include differs by state. In any case, surviving spouses, parents of deceased minors and minors whose parents died may always file a wrongful death claim. States begin to disagree when you bring adult children, extended relatives (i.e., grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) and life partners into the mix.
When Can a Wrongful Death Claim Be Filed?
The estate or family of a deceased victim can file a wrongful death claim in multiple instances that led to the death, including, but not limited to the following:
- Car, truck and motorcycle accidents
- Construction accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home negligence
- Product failure
- Fraternity/sorority hazing
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Birth injuries
Be that as it may, as with other types of lawsuits, simply filing a wrongful death claim does not automatically ensure the deceased’s estate or family will receive due compensation.
What Has to Be Proven in Wrongful Death Claims?
To receive compensation in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff (i.e., the deceased’s estate or family member(s)) has the same burden of proof the deceased victim would have had if he or she had lived. So what does this “burden of proof” refer to? When negligence on the part of the defendant was the victim’s cause of death, the plaintiff would have to prove the defendant had a duty of care over the deceased, that the duty was violated and that this violation was the direct cause of death. (This is why it’s essential for the plaintiff to hire a reputable wrongful death attorney who will fight relentlessly on the plaintiff’s behalf.)
What Types of Damages Can Be Pursued with Wrongful Death Claims?
There are various types of damages plaintiffs in wrongful death claims can pursue. Surviving family members may be able to receive compensation for the following categories of loss (plus more):
- Funeral expenses and burial costs
- Any medical treatment costs the deceased acquired before death
- The deceased victim’s pain and suffering incurred prior to death
- Loss of the deceased’s income
- Loss of inheritance due to death
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of any guidance and/or care the deceased would have given
Need Assistance with a Wrongful Death Claim?
If you believe a family member’s death was due to another party’s indiscretion or negligence and would like to file a wrongful death claim, call Bill Kennedy Law at (972) 939-4878 to set up your free initial consultation. Our wrongful death trial attorneys will stop at nothing to fight for your case and protect your rights.