If you’ve lost an immediate family member to a personal injury that was caused by a third party, you have the ability to file a wrongful death lawsuit under civil law. Criminal charges can also be brought by local or state jurisdictions against the third party at fault for a wrongful death, and such charges can give the victim’s family some measure of justice.
The loss of the family member is a heavy blow that brings with it not only pain and suffering but financial hardship in many cases. Recovering financial damages allows families some additional measure of justice as well as some compensation for their losses.
A wrongful death is defined as any death that is caused by the negligent actions of a third party. For this reason, wrongful death lawsuits can be initiated for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common include drunk driving accidents, the use of defective products, and the failure to diagnosis or the misdiagnosis of a fatal illness.
Proving Your Wrongful Death Personal Injury Claim
Wrongful death claims are filed by the family members or beneficiaries of the victim. In most jurisdictions, the individual who must hire a wrongful death lawyer is the authorized representative of the victim’s estate, though he or she usually files a claim in consultation with and on behalf of the victim’s family. The estate representative is typically appointed in probate court and is then responsible for any future civil actions brought against the individual or organization responsible for the victim’s death.
Losses included in a wrongful death claim can be economic and non-economic damages. Damages can include costs associated with medical care, funeral and burial expenses, and loss of future earnings. Non-economic damages attempt to provide some measure of recompense for harder to quantify losses, like pain and suffering and loss of a spousal or parental relationship.
Proving a wrongful death claim requires showing a third party was at fault for the death of the victim. In order to demonstrate liability under the law, you must be able to prove negligence was present and that the negligent actions of the third party named in the claim was the direct or underlying cause of the victim’s death.
The methods for proving negligence will vary from one case to the next, dependent upon what kind of incident caused the wrongful death. For instance, a drunk driving accident will require police records, eye witness accounts, and other kinds of documentation for proving the claim. A medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit, on the other hand, requires much more complex documentation, expert medical testimony and other forms of evidence in order to prove the claim and can be more difficult to support as a result.
Your Wrongful Death Personal Injury Case
Because wrongful death lawsuits can cost insurance companies and other third parties a great deal of money, wrongful death cases are usually given significant attention. Any individual or organization against whom you bring a wrongful death lawsuit will hire the most efficient attorney they can to defend their actions and represent their interests. You should do the same.
Hiring a personal injury attorney familiar with wrongful death cases is in your best interest. Consulting a wrongful death lawyer can help you determine the viability of your case. He or she can also help you collect the necessary evidence for proving your claim and can negotiate a settlement or argue your case at trial, if necessary. While no amount of money can bring your loved one back, working with a wrongful death lawyer can give you a better chance of seeing compensation for damages that will help you and your family deal with your losses and move forward with your lives.