The death of a loved one is tragic and can have consequences that reach well into the future. In the event of wrongful death, an experienced attorney will help you hold those responsible accountable for their actions. After such a devastating event, nothing can be done to restore the loss, but we can help in the fight for justice, to ensure that your loss is recognized, and that your grief is answered to the full letter the law provides.
- Justice for those we have lost
- Compensation for those left behind
- Ensure your loss is not ignored
The term "wrongful death" refers to a death that was caused by the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity. A wrongful death can be caused by anything from fleeting negligence to a blatantly reckless or malicious act. It may be caused by an individual, but a corporation can also be held liable. Under current U.S. law, the survivors of the person wrongfully killed may be entitled to compensation from those who are responsible. Whoever is to be held liable, the law specifies that there must be a natural, direct series of events leading to the fatal injury. Defendants have to be proven to be the "proximate cause of the decedent's injuries" for a lawsuit to be successful.
Wrongful death laws differ from state to state, though they do share some similarities. In some states, children older than 18 and into their 20's may still be entitled to receive compensation. In most states, the estate of the decedent (a commonly used legal term for the deceased) is entitled to recover damages for some elements of a case.
What Compensation Can Be Claimed in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Medical and funeral bills are almost always recoverable in damages by the estate or by the surviving family member who was responsible for paying them. Typically, a surviving spouse can be compensated for the loss of their dead spouse's friendship, love, services, and support for the duration of the expected joint life expectancy.
Children can be compensated for the loss of affection, support, services, and direction they suffer due to the loss of their parent; some states will include children up to the age of 22 or older in these decisions. Wrongful death law has the purpose of recovering damages for each survivor to compensate for the loss of the deceased. In most states, the deceased estate is also eligible to put forward a claim for the value of all future earnings and assets the deceased may have accumulated for the remainder of their natural life had the death not happened.
Eligible survivors who can lawfully make a civil case to hold those responsible liable differs from state to state, based on the individual applicable state laws. The statute will determine whether surviving spouses, next of kin and children are eligible to file a claim. In some states it is possible for a separated partner to make a claim as long as you were not failing to pay financial support or guilty of desertion. Claims in some states are precluded from those who are adult children and financially independent of a deceased parent. Other states only allow children who are still minors to make a claim. Same-sex partners are recognized as valid claimants in some states but not others.
To find out if you are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you can get your free legal case review using the secure and entirely confidential form above, and get a free legal case review from an experienced attorney. It is important to act now, as the time you have to file your lawsuit is limited.
Whether you are entitled to make a claim will be determined under the statute that governs the case, and our attorneys will be able to provide you further information.
Who Actually Files the Lawsuit?
Claims are not filed by the survivors themselves, but as with nearly all legal actions, are filed by a representative on their behalf. Those survivors who are suffering damage from the death of the deceased are referred to as the "real parties in interest". These "real parties in interest" can vary from state to state according to the local statute but in general they can include:
- Unmarried life partners, financial dependents, and common law spouses - Not every state allows for this group of survivors to file a wrongful death lawsuit claim, but in some states these three groups are able to make a claim.
- Removed family members - In some states it is possible for more distant family members such as siblings and grandparents to file a claim. This is especially true in situations where the grandparent or sibling may now be raising a child of the deceased.
- Any person who suffers financial hardship - In some states it is possible for any person who suffers financially due to the wrongful death of the deceased to recover damages, regardless of their relationship with the deceased.
- Parents of a deceased fetus - States are divided on the rights of parents to bring a lawsuit in the case of a dead fetus. In some states it is acceptable to bring a suit for emotional and financial losses suffered from the death of an unborn fetus, while in others the baby must first be born alive and subsequently die. If you have been in the unfortunate situation in which a fetus has died, your legal advisor will be able to assist you with up-to-date laws specific to your state and offer a compassionate pathway to recovery.
- The executor, administrator or beneficiaries (usually family members) of the estate of the deceased can also bring a lawsuit.
It depends on many other specifics of the circumstances including location where the death took place, the claimants' relationship to the decedent, the individual or entity that is being held liable, the status of the estate, local statutes, time limitations and many other factors; there are too many variables to determine to generalize about eligibility or the amounts of compensation you may be entitled. Each case will have its merits and factors which will all be accounted for during the course of a claim.
If your loved one has been the victim of wrongful death, share the details of your case, use the secure case review form at the top of this page to get a free legal review and find out if you have a case.Review My Case Now
There are a broad number of accidents that can be legally lead to wrongful death liability. Statistically speaking the most common causes for lawsuits are the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accident
- Motorcycle accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Defective drugs or products
- Workplace accidents
- Death caused by assault or battery
- Vehicular manslaughter
As any death can be of a wrongful nature - the prime factor must be that someone (or an entity such as a corporation) can be held responsible for a death that would not otherwise have occurred. Whatever the circumstances, if someone you loved has died wrongfully, as a result of anothers negligence or actions, experienced lawyers are standing-by to help you use the law to achieve justice.Review My Case Now
A successful wrongful death lawsuit can result in a number of different damages that can be awarded including:
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of the support/love/guidance of the deceased
- Loss of anticipated lifetime earnings
- Loss of property due to the death (vehicles etc.)
- Other financial losses or hardship suffered as the result of a wrongful death
The courts decide the level of damages you may be entitled using a wide range of affecting parameters such as future earnings potential of the decedent, your relationship to the deceased and the level of loss and suffering you have incurred.
As a claimant you may be awarded punitive damages, especially in cases where the actions of the defendant were excessively negligent. These punitive damages are meant as a punishment for the defendant, rather than as a means to compensate you for your loss.Review My Case Now
A wrongful death caused by murder can be filed in both civil and criminal courts, often with concurrent cases. Civil actions are brought by the family or other eligible claimants and generally seek compensatory judgments. Criminal actions are brought by public prosecutors and seek accountability under the law in the form of jail sentencing or other punitive measures.
In the infamous OJ Simpson trial, a criminal case failed, but the civil case that followed was won. This lack of coherence between the two processes caused a quandary among lawmakers and outrage in the public that such a situation could transpire, but this has actually occurred a number of times in the past. The cause is that the burden of proof is higher for a criminal case in comparison to a civil case; obviously as punishment in a criminal murder trial can involve the death penalty, there is considerable need for more substantiation of evidence.
Successful civil actions result in only financially punitive damages requiring a lower burden of proof.
The state laws governing your case and the policies of the public prosecution service will determine the course of legal action taken against those being held responsible for your loss.
Generally, if there is a criminal prosecution being heard in court, a civil action will be possible too. Contact us today to find out if you are able to file a claim in civil court.Review My Case Now
We understand that no amount of money can compensate for the loss of a loved one, standing-by are among the nations top trial lawyers for wrongful death here to make sure that the actions of those responsible do not go unanswered and that your loss is recognized.
You deserve to be treated with dignity, your situation heard with respect, and your grief be recognized. Find out if you have a case now, as time is limited for you to file your lawsuit claim.
To get your confidential legal case review, provide the details of your case below and find out if you have a case today.