How to Claim a Wrongful Death

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The death of a loved one is always a difficult time. It could get even harder if the death was caused by someone else, either through carelessness or negligence. When a person or business causes the death of a person, either by neglect or lack of care, such an act is known as wrongful death.

Wrongful death can occur in various situations. Some of the more common wrongful death cases include:

  • Medical Malpractice: This happens when medical staff fails to follow all procedures, misdiagnose or miss out something leading to death.
  • Motor Accidents: Car crashes caused by the negligence of drivers, or other careless road users, which results in death is a wrongful death. If the claimant has survived, the survivor can make a personal injury claim.
  • Work Accidents: fatalities caused by working in life-threatening situations in the workplace is a wrongful death
  • Defective products: Death due to consumption of a toxic or substandard product is wrongful death.
  • Aviation errors: Although rare, plane crashes due to negligence by the airline or the airplane manufacturer is wrongful death.

However, wrongful death situations are not limited to the above cases.

Elements that qualify a wrongful death case and who can file a claim

It is vital to note that a lawyer cannot determine how much you will be compensated. A lawyer is also not able to decide on a successful outcome. However, some elements are necessary for a successful claim. A skilled wrongful death attorney should check out for details such as;

  • A death must be the result of the incident being discussed
  • A claimant must prove the death was caused by carelessness or negligence of the defendant
  • The death must have brought about financial hardships to the claimant
  • The death must have directly affected the claimant and the family of the deceased

Since the deceased is not in a position to make a lawsuit, the survivors who had a direct relationship with the deceased can have a representative who will represent them in the trial. In the U.S, the survivors who can be recognized varies according to the state.

Some survivors are recognized in all states. Spouses of a deceased person can make a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased spouse in all states. Parents can also claim if one of their children die in such a situation. Children can also claim on behalf of parents in all states. Usually, the more distant the relationship with the deceased, the harder it is for the claimant to be recognized.

Can a company be sued for wrongful death?

If an intentional or accidental act caused by an employee or someone affiliated to a company causes wrongful death, the company can be sued. According to the nature of the situation, the suit can be made on the employee, the company or both.

Under commercial liability policies, wrongful deaths are treated like body injury claims. If the plaintiff proves that the employee, either by accident or negligence, caused the death, the claim can be covered by liability insurance. However, terms and conditions apply. If the death was caused by intended harm, it could not be covered by the liability policy. A company can have multiple lawsuits. An example is the Ohio Hospital case which had over seven lawsuits.

What types of damages can be compensated?

If the survivor is recognized as a valid claimant, and the court rules on the claimant’s favor, the damages that can be compensated include:

  • Burial expenses and medical bills
  • Had the deceased lived his normal life expectancy, the wages lost can be compensated.
  • The pain caused to the family members
  • Punitive damages to work as an example to people with similar behavior in the future.

How long you can wait to file a lawsuit depends on the state. In some states, a lawsuit that is delayed for too long may bar you from ever making such a lawsuit. Again, not all states allow punitive damages as an avenue for compensation. Consult with a wrongful death attorney for expert advice.

A wrongful death claim is a civil case. However, it is possible to file wrongful death claims in addition to a criminal charge. Criminal charges and civil cases are not related. A defendant can be found guilty on one and found innocent on the other. Criminal charges also require a higher burden of proof and are not compensated.


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