Wrongful Death: Filing a Lawsuit

A wrongful death claim is a unique kind of personal injury lawsuit brought against an individual for causing either intentionally or through negligence, another person’s death. The claim allows the estate of the diseased to file a suit against the party liable for the death, and the suit is usually filed by a representative of the estate on behalf of surviving family members and other affected parties.

When is a Wrongful Death Claim Valid?

If a victim who would otherwise pursue a personal injury claim is killed as a result of either negligence or intentional harm, it warrants a wrongful death claim. This may happen in any number of situations including:

When a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice. If for instance a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or is seen to make reckless decisions in regards to a patient, if the patient dies as a result, then a lawsuit may be brought against the doctor.

Auto accidents involving negligence. If the driver is proven to have been negligent, then a lawsuit may be filed to claim wrongful death.

What To Prove

In order for the defendant to prove the defendant liable, the plaintiff and the estate they represent must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have been required to meet had they lived. It means showing that the accused owed the victim a duty of care, and that they breached this duty, and that this breach directly or proximately lead to the death of the victim and damages to their estate.

Who Can File The Claim

A spouse may file the suit on behalf of his or her partner, and parents of minors can bring the issue to court if one of their children is killed. Similarly minors can collect compensation for the death of a parent, but rules tend to be different in the case of adults suing on behalf of their parents.

Typically, more distant familial relationships mean it’s going to be harder to show that you should be allowed to collect damages. Extended relatives, both maternal and paternal, may have more difficulty claiming compensation.

Situations Warranting Compensation:

Survival claim- this covers pain and suffering preceding death
The deceased person’s medical costs incurred as a result of the injury prior to death
Loss of inheritance as a result of the death
Termination of the deceased person’s expected income
Funeral and burial costs
Loss of care, value, services, guidance, nurturing, companionship, that the deceased would have provided
Loss of consortium