What Qualifies As Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Brad Nakase, Wrongful Death Lawsuit Attorney

Wrongful death lawsuits recover compensation for a death caused by negligence or misconduct. These types of claims are handled differently in each state, so it is important to look at your state’s wrongful death laws and consult an attorney. This article will provide general information about wrongful death lawsuits.

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The purpose of wrongful death lawsuits is to provide compensation for immediate family members who lost a loved one. Depending on the state you live in, different people are able to be plaintiffs. In California, for example, only widows (including domestic partners) and children or dependents of the deceased can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In other states, multiple immediate family members can be plaintiffs.

A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when someone is killed by the defendant’s negligent actions or misconduct.  A good rule of thumb when determining if you can file a wrongful death lawsuit is to determine if the deceased would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit if they were still alive. Common types of wrongful death lawsuits include:

  • Accidental Death – If someone dies in a car accident due to someone’s negligence, then the family can file a accidental death lawsuit. These are common in drunk driving or texting while driving car accidents.
  • Nursing Home Wrongful Death – One of the most common types of wrongful death lawsuits is nursing home wrongful death lawsuit. This is where the negligence of a nursing home caused the death of the deceased. Sometimes wrongful death lawsuits can be filed when the nursing home failed to care for the decedent.
  • Intentional Killing – When someone murders someone else, they will face a criminal trial, and if they lose their case will be sent to prison and fined. The family of the victim can also file a wrongful death lawsuit separate from the criminal trial in order to recover damages from the loss of the deceased.

Wrongful Death Elements

The wrongful death elements are the things that the plaintiff and the wrongful death lawyer need to prove to win the wrongful death lawsuit. These are:

  • The defendant’s negligence or intentional actions caused the death of the plaintiff’s loved one
  • The plaintiff has incurred financial damages due to the death of their loved one (with evidence)

The plaintiff must also comply with the statute of limitations, and someone representing the deceased’s estate must be involved in the wrongful death lawsuit.

It is best to hire an attorney who is experienced in wrongful death lawsuits. They will help you to compile evidence and hire expert witnesses to strengthen your case and meet the legal elements. It is a very complex process, and it is best to have an expert on your legal team.

What Damages Can I Claim In a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Each state has different rules on what a plaintiff can claim in a wrongful death lawsuit. It may vary depending on your level of dependency on the deceased and how their death has impacted your financial situation.

In general, you can claim the following things:

  • Cost of any medical bills accrued from the accident before their death
  • Cost of any ambulance transport
  • Funeral costs
  • Lost prospect of inheritance
  • Lost financial contribution of the deceased
  • Lost services they would have performed around the house (childcare, cleaning, repairs, etc.)
  • Loss of consortium (emotional support, love, intimacy, etc.) and loss of guidance
  • Pain and suffering as a result of the loss

The court will consider a number of factors in a wrongful death lawsuit, such as witness testimony, expert witness testimony, documentary evidence, and the age and health of the victim. A wrongful death lawsuit for someone who was older and in poor health may not provide as much in damages as one for a young person in excellent health.

Once the lawsuit has concluded, the defendant or their insurer will send a check for the total damages to your attorney. Wrongful death lawsuits are often handled on a contingency basis, so they will deduct their legal services and other costs like court fees and send you a check for the remainder. In some cases, a portion of the settlement may need to go to the executor of the estate in order to reimburse for funeral expenses or medical bills paid by the estate or the executor.

Wrongful Death Lawyer Free Consultation

If your loved one died as a result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct, contact a wrongful death attorney to discuss your case. Nakase Law Firm offers free consultations so you can get practical advice about your legal options, the strength of your case, and an estimate of the value of your case.

It is best to contact a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible so that the statute of limitations does not void your claim.

© Copyright | Nakase Law Firm (2019)