Wrongful death is probably among the most grievous things that can happen to anyone and what’s even more alarming is the lack of knowledge people have about the case. As a consequence of their ignorance, they don’t get the justice and compensation they deserve.
If you even bump into one of these grievous cases, you need to arm yourself with the knowledge on how this case works and know how to make a claim. This post will discuss how a wrongful death lawsuit works, and what you can do to obtain justice.
So keep reading…
How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works
A claim for wrongful death is a special type of personal injury case made when somebody is killed because of the intentional act or negligence of another party. In this post, we will talk about how wrongful death lawsuits work. So read on.
Claims on wrongful death are brought against a perpetrator (defendant) who has caused somebody’s death negligently or by intentional means. Wrongful death claims enable the deceased person’s estate to file a case against the party who’s legally responsible for the death. Usually, the lawsuit is filed by the estate’s representative, on behalf of the deceased’s family members as well as other affected parties.
If another individual or entity (such as a vehicle manufacturer) causes somebody’s death, the loved ones or surviving family members of the deceased could bring a wrongful death case. But to win in a case, the essential components of the case should be present. The article entitled Wrongful Death Overview by FindLaw discusses the elements of wrongful death.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
To bring a successful wrongful death cause of action, the following elements must be present:
- The death of a human being;
- Caused by another’s negligence, or with intent to cause harm;
- The survival of family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and;
- The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate.
A wrongful death claim may arise out of some circumstances, such as in the following situations:
- Medical malpractice that results in decedent’s death;
- Automobile or airplane accident;
- Occupational exposure to hazardous conditions or substances;
- Criminal behavior;
- Death during a supervised activity.
When Is a Claim on Wrongful Death Applicable?
A claim for wrongful death is applicable and appropriate when a victim who has an injury claim is murdered due to either an intentional dangerous act or negligence on the defendant’s part. This can happen in various situations, including:
- When a victim is murdered intentionally – For instance, OJ Simpson was charged for wrongful death for Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson’s murders. The incident was based on the intentional
- When a victim is dead due to medical malpractice – If a physician failed to make a diagnosis for a condition, or if the physician was negligent in the level of health care being provided, and the patient died as a consequence, then a wrongful death claim can be brought against the physician.
- Car accident deaths that involve negligence – If a victim is dead due to car accident injuries, a wrongful death claim may be brought to light.
These are just some cases of personal injury lawsuits that can become wrongful death claims. Wrongful death claims can occur in nearly any type of personal injury case, although there is one important exception for work injuries that cause death, which must be dealt with entirely.
But, who may sue and who can be sued for wrongful death?
The article Wrongful Death Claims: An Overview discusses this.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
A representative must file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the survivors who suffer damage from the decedent’s death (they are called the “real parties in interest”). The representative is usually the executor of the decedent’s estate. The “real parties in interest” vary from state to state. Some of those people might include:
Immediate family members.
- Life partners, financial dependents, and putative spouses.
- Distant family members.
- All persons who suffer financially.
- Parents of a deceased fetus.
Who May Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of persons, companies, government agencies, and employees. For example, in a car accident involving a faulty roadway and a drunk driver, a wrongful death action might include defendants such as:
- the driver or employer at fault in the automobile accident
- the designer or builder of the faulty roadway
- a government agent who failed to provide adequate warnings regarding a road hazard that caused the accident
- the manufacturer, distributor, or installer of a faulty or dangerous part of the vehicle
- the persons who sold, served, or gave alcohol to the impaired driver, or
- the owner of the premises where the alcohol was served.
What Should Be Proven?
To hold the defendant legally responsible for a claim for wrongful death, the victims (plaintiffs) in the claim (frequently through the deceased victim’s estate) should meet the exact burden of proof that the deceased victim would’ve had to encounter had the victim survived.
So, utilizing negligence as a case, this includes demonstrating that the defendant is obligated to apply duty of care to the victim; that the defendant violated this duty; that the breach was a proximate and direct cause of death; and that the death resulted in the incident’s damages the plaintiff is attempting to recover.