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How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works
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What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?

A wrongful death claim is a very unique lawsuit which can be filed when a specific person or business whose neglect was thought to be the cause of a person's death. This type of suit can also be filed if the business or person's action that lead to another's death was thought to be an intentional act. These cases are typically filed by a wrongful death attorney who is representing the deceased person's estate or surviving family members.

Fully understanding what a wrongful death claim is can be better done with some examples. While various circumstances can result in this type of case, there are many common ones. Let's go over a few of these examples below so you can better formulate just what a wrongful death suit is.

A Person Is Intentionally Killed

While you may think that murder or another like charge should be the type of case an intentional act of killing is, that's not correct. The individual state where the death occurred will likely file charges against the killer. These are considered the state's criminal cases. A civil lawsuit for wrongful death can be brought against the killer by the victim's surviving family. These would be two different cases that the killer would face.

Medical Malpractice

Doctors have a standard of care that requires them to properly diagnose and provide an adequate level of care for their patients. If a doctor doesn't correctly diagnose a condition or they fail to provide an adequate level of care to a patient that dies, they may be sued by the patient's surviving family. This medical malpractice case falls into the wrongful death suit because there was a death involved.

Car Accident

West Coast Trial Lawyers regularly handle cases that involve vehicle accidents. When injuries are involved, they're typically seen as personal injury cases. However, when there is a death involved in the accident due to another driver's neglect, the victim's family can bring up a wrongful death suit against the neglectful driver.

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

West Coast Trial Lawyers will typically file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased victim's survivors. Who these survivors are will vary depending on your specific state. However, there are some key similarities that all states outline in their laws.

Regardless of what state the death occurred in, the spouse of the victim can bring up the wrongful death suit against the known defendant. Also, any parents of a minor victim can bring up a lawsuit. Lastly, minors can bring up a case for the wrongful death of a parent. These are the same laws in every single state.

Apart from the above relationships, each state specifies others who can act as survivors for the victim. Most states will allow a romantic partner who is not in wedlock to bring up a case. Those who can show they were financially dependent on the deceased can typically file a case.

Grey areas start to show up when it comes to adult children suing over the death of a parent. Or, parents suing over the death of an adult child. Typically, the more distant the relationship from the deceased, the harder it is to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A good wrongful death attorney can help you to wade through the legal requirements in your specific state to see if you're eligible for filing a wrongful death suit or not.

What Needs To Be Proven In This Type Of Case?

A wrongful death lawyer will need to prove some key facts for your wrongful death lawsuit to be successful in a court of law. The court looks at the estate of the deceased victim as having to provide the same burden of proof that the deceased person would have to if they were still living. This can seem a bit confusing at first, so we're going to go over an example below.

Negligence is the most common reason for a wrongful death suit. The estate or surviving family member's of the victim would have a burden of proof they must prove. In this case, this would mean that the defendant had a duty of care for the victim, they breached their duty of care, and their direct breach was the cause of death for the victim. When it comes to receiving damages, the estate must prove that the death caused the specific damages that they're trying to recover.

Categories Of Losses

When an eligible survivor seeks compensation from the neglectful party in a wrongful death suit, there are certain categories their suit must specify. Each of these help the court to decide what amount of damages is appropriate for the case. These different categories include the following:

  • Survival Claim

  • Medical Treatment Costs

  • Funeral And Burial Costs

  • Loss Of Deceased Person's Expected Income

  • Loss Of Inheritance Due To Death

  • Value Of Services

  • Loss Of Guidance, Nurturing, And Care

  • Loss Of Consortium

  • Loss Of Companionship And Love

Top Reasons To Hire An Attorney

If you have a wrongful death suit that you want to file, it's highly advisable to get an attorney. They can help guide you through the case and increase your chances of receiving compensation. Here are some other great reasons you should really consider hiring a skilled wrongful death lawyer to fight your case.

They Know The Legal Process

Unless you are a practicing lawyer that specializes in the wrongful death field, then it's not very likely you know the legal process involved in this type of case. A lawyer who specializes in this field of law knows the legal process. Their expertise can allow you to easily navigate through the legal paperwork and process for the case. This includes things like filing deadlines and responding to defendant motions.

Saves You Time And Money

When you hire an attorney, you're paying them for the skills and knowledge that they possess. If you decide to file a wrongful death suit on your own, you're going to be investing a lot of your own time and money in doing so. You'll need to research what paperwork to file and identify any appropriate deadlines. It's much easier to hire an experienced attorney that can do all the necessary paperwork in a fraction of the time.

They Can Assess Value

Knowing how to decide what amount you're going to be seeking in damages is a shot in the dark for those who are not familiar with a wrongful death suit. You can try to sue for a large number of damages with no success. A skillful attorney will be easily able to evaluate the circumstances in your case and base their decision for what they believe you can receive in compensation on previous cases.

Support When You Need It

Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard. Trying to navigate the legal process and keep a level head can be difficult to do when you're still grieving. A wrongful death attorney can provide you support with level-headed opinions about your case. They'll take care of handling all the tedious details so that you don't have to be involved at every step of the process. When you let an attorney assist you, it will allow you to spend your time healing.

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