Having someone you love pass away is terrible to start with, but when it’s due to someone else’s negligence or intentional act, that makes things so much worse. You know it was preventable, and there’s no small amount of anger involved.
Wrongful death settlements are designed to compensate victims in some small way for the loss of their loved one. No amount of money brings anyone back, but the compensation is still important, especially to hold the other party accountable.
Wrongful death cases are a civil matter as opposed to a criminal one. That means the approach and burden of proof are different. Here’s what you need to know.
When Does Wrongful Death Apply?
What is wrongful death? It happens when a person is killed due to an action of another person. It can be accidental, negligent, or intentional.
For instance, OJ Simpson was famously prosecuted for the wrongful deaths of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. This was in civil court and was separate from the criminal case. Or, a driver can be sued for wrongful death if their negligence resulted in a car accident where another person died.
Medical malpractice is another example of wrongful death. Generally, any non-work-related personal injury case that results in death can be prosecuted as wrongful death. Work-related claims are handled through the workers’ compensation system.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
A representative of the survivors of the deceased files the claim in civil court. The representative is often the executor of the estate, represented by a wrongful death lawyer.
The parties of interest vary from state to state. They generally include immediate family members and domestic or life partners. Some states also include other direct family members and anyone else who suffered financially because of the person’s passing. The more distant the relationship, the less likely a legal remedy is available.
It’s essential to work with a qualified accident attorney when you file a wrongful death lawsuit. Professional representation will protect your rights and help ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
What Damages Are Part of a Settlement?
A wrongful death settlement includes compensation for a wide range of losses. For instance, the pain and suffering the deceased suffered before passing away is considered. So are the medical treatment costs that came from trying to treat and save their life, along with funeral and burial costs.
You can also claim losses related to loss of income from the deceased, along with any lost inheritance. Many cases also look at the value of services the person provided, loss of guidance and nurture, and companionship loss.
Trying to value someone’s life might seem difficult or even impossible. However, considering all of these losses is an essential part of ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve from your loved one’s death.
Get the Representation You Need
If you’ve lost a loved one due to another person’s actions, it can be hard to know what to do next. The most crucial step is to get the representation you need from a qualified injury attorney.