What Qualifies as a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the Court of Law?

wrongful death lawsuit

What is Wrongful Death Lawsuit in the Court of Law?

When a loved one or someone else close to you dies because of the fault of another person or entity, such as a medical malpractice case or an automobile accident, the survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the person is seeking damages in the form of compensation for the survivor’s loss. This could include lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses. 

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim happens when a person dies because of the fault of another person. Every state in the U.S. has some type of wrongful death law. 

Wrongful death claims involve a variety of fatal accidents from an ordinary car accident to a complicated medical malpractice or product liability cases. People, companies, and government agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently – failing to act as a reasonable individual would have acted – and for acting intentionally. 

What Wrongful Death Claims Apply?

Wrongful death claims come about due to a situation where a victim who could have legally filed a personal injury claim against another party dies as a result of the wrongful actions of the defendant.  There are several scenarios that may lead to this happening, and they include the following:

Medical Malpractice

In this case, a wrongful death claim is possible if a doctor acts negligently when it comes to the care that they provided to the victim and that patient dies because of this carelessness, or a doctor does not diagnose the condition that resulted in his patient’s death.  Survivors can potentially file a wrongful death claim against the doctor and other medical care providers involved under established medical malpractice statues. 

Intentional Killing

If someone intentionally kills another person, a wrongful death claim could apply.  For instance, if the defendant murders the victim, the defendant will come up on charges in a criminal case. The families of the victim may also bring forth civil lawsuits for wrongful death against the defendant. 

The wrongful death case represents a civil matter that is separate from the criminal case. 

Automobile Accidents

If a person is killed as a result of an automobile accident and investigators conclude that the person who caused the accident behaved negligently behind the wheel, then a wrongful death lawsuit may apply. Examples of negligence while driving include reckless driving, and driving while intoxicated. 

Elements Involved in Wrongful Death Lawsuits

The following elements must be present in order to bring forth a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • Monetary injuries, related to the death, for the surviving family members. 
  • A person’s death that was caused by another person’s negligence or by another person’s intent to cause the deceased individual harm. 
  • Appointment of a personal representative for the estate of the decedent. 

However, it is important to note that you are required to file a wrongful death case within the time frames established in the statute of limitations for the state where the person passed away. You are able to file a claim after this time if an investigation of the death fails to determine the cause of action until a later time. 

what is a wrongful death lawsuit?

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death

A wrongful death claim has to be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who suffer damage from the decedent’s death.  They are referred to as the “real parties in interest.” This representative is typically the executor of the decedent’s estate. The “real parties in interest” vary from state to state. Some of these people could include:

Life partners, financial dependents, and putative spouses.  In certain states, a domestic or life partner, anybody who was financially dependent on the decedent, and a “putative spouse” – someone who had a good faith belief that she or he was married to the victim – have a right of recovery. 

Distant family members.  Certain states permit more distant family members, like sisters, brothers, and grandparents, to bring wrongful death lawsuits.  For instance, a grandparent who is raising a child may be able to bring an action. 

Immediate family members.  In all states, immediate family members such as spouses and children – including adopted children – and parents of unmarried children are able to recover under wrongful death actions. 

Parents of a deceased fetus.  In some states, the death of a fetus can be the basis for a wrongful death suit.  Is several other states, parents cannot bring a wrongful death action to recover for financial and emotional losses resulting from the death of a fetus.  In these states, the parents can bring a wrongful death action only if the child was born alive and then died.  You are advised to check your state and confer with an experienced wrongful death lawyer to find out if such an action is permitted in your state. 

All persons who suffer financially.  Certain states allow all persons who suffer financially from the death to bring a wrongful death action for lost care or support, even if they are not related by blood or marriage to the victim. 

Who Can Be Sued for a Wrongful Death?

Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a variety of companies, persons, government agencies and employees. For instance, in a car accident that involves a faulty roadway and a drunk driver, a wrongful death action could include defendants such as:

  • The designer or builder of the faulty roadway
  • The driver or employer at-fault in the car accident 
  • The manufacturer, distributor, or installer of a faulty or dangerous part of the automobile 
  • The owner of the premises where the alcohol was served
  • The persons who sold, served, or gave alcohol to the impaired driver 
  • A government agent who failed to provide adequate warnings regarding a road hazard that caused the accident 

Roberts Jones Law Is Here To Serve Your Legal Needs During Wrongful Death Cases

wrongful death attorney representation

If you have had the misfortune of experiencing a potential wrongful death involving a loved or relative, we encourage you to contact the offices of Roberts Jones Law to handle your case. We understand this is a difficult time for you, which is why we would like to offer our legal services so you could potentially come away from this unfortunate incident with some semblance of justice having been served. 

At Roberts Jones Law, we will provide you with a free consultation so we can discuss your legal options for collecting compensation from the person or party that caused the death of your loved one. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice. 

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