When someone dies as a result of another person’s negligence or misconduct, the decedent’s family may sue for "wrongful death." This claim is separate from any criminal charges such as murder or assault which may have been brought against the defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit. A person can also be found liable for wrongful death even if no criminal charges were ever filed against that person. A wrongful death lawsuit can be a highly beneficial legal tool for families of victims who wish to pursue financial compensation for their loss.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit and When?
The personal representative of the victim’s estate, called the “special representative,” is the only one who can bring a wrongful death suit. This representative is most often a close family member. In order to have a valid wrongful death case, several criteria must be met. Firstly, someone must have died. The death must have been caused by another’s negligence, such as when a drunk driver kills a pedestrian, or through intentional harm. Another requirement is the survival of family members who have experienced damages as a result of the death.
What Types of Damages are Considered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The damages surviving family members can recover compensation for include medical expenses, the deceased’s lost wages, the value of the services that the victim would have provided, and funeral and burial expenses. Additionally, a wrongful death lawsuit can help recover compensation for the deceased’s person's mental and physical pain and suffering. Damages can also include losses relating to the non-financial, emotional benefits the victim provided their family. For example, the loss of the nurturing and care a parent would have provided to his or her children can be considered recoverable damages. Loss of companionship and love as well as loss of consortium, the losses a widowed spouse experiences, can all be included in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages can also include the mental suffering and grief suffered by the surviving family members.
What Types of Incidents are Considered Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim may stem from many different types of circumstances. For example, after O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder in a criminal court, the family of Ron Goldman was able to bring Simpson to civil court on a wrongful death claim. A civil jury found Simpson liable for Goldman’s death and ordered him to pay $33.5 million to Goldman’s surviving relatives. Wrongful death lawsuits can also arise from:
- Medical malpractice;
- Occupational exposure to dangerous conditions or hazardous substances;
- Criminal behavior;
- Car, truck, bus, train, boat, or airplane accidents; and
- Defective products.
Personal Injury Lawyers Representing Families of Those Killed by the Negligence of Others
If you have lost a loved one and wish to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, the dedicated Winnebago County wrongful death attorneys at Mannarino & Brasfield, A Division of KJS are here to help. Call us at 815-215-7561 to schedule a free consultation today.