A wrongful death suit is a civil action in which damages are claimed against a company or individual for causing someone’s death. When a death is caused by negligence, criminal activity (even murder), or by the actions or inactions of a third party such as an automobile manufacturer, a wrongful death suit is filed, normally by the family members of the victim. Here are examples of those who can normally file wrong wrongful death suits:
- immediate family members, including spouses, children, adopted children, and parents of unmarried children
- siblings and grandparents
- parents of a deceased infant or fetus
- domestic partners
- financial dependents and those who suffer financially as a result of the death
What actions constitute a wrongful death?
- An intentional act, such as assault or battery that results in death
- The careless and negligent act, which causes a deadly accident (such as DUI)
- A defect in the design or manufacturing of a product
- Malpractice of a medical facility or professional
Can a distant relative file the charges?
This varies a bit from state to state, but the general rule is this: If a person depended on the victim for support, either emotionally, or financially, they can file the suit. In some cases, the charges are filed by the representative of the state.
What compensation can be sought?
There are many specifics and every case is different. However, there are some basics compensations that are established as “normal”. Here are a few of the most common compensations the courts consider:
- The cost of the pre-death medical expenses
- The cost of funeral and burial expenses
- The amount of money the deceased would have earned and contributed had they lived
- The emotional pain on those, loss of care, and loss of companionship on those the deceased left behind.
It should be noted that future earnings of the deceased must be presented in details and testimony from an expert witness.
What if the case already went to criminal court?
There are many famous cases that have been tried in criminal court, only to have been tried again in civil court. The O. J. Simpson case comes to mind. Though Simpson was not proven guilty in criminal court, his victims’ family’s sued for wrongful death in civil court and won. In civil court, there does not have to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The people suing, simply must tip the scale in their favor and show it is more likely than not that the defendant or defendants were responsible for the wrongful death of their loved one.
The loss of a loved one or family member has long-terms on a family. A qualified attorney can advise you of your rights and help you receive the compensation you deserve. He or she can take steps to ensure that the death of an adult does not cripple the financial future of the children and others he left behind. If someone you love has lost their life due to the neglect of others, see legal assistance.