The Basics of Wrongful Death Law

When a person dies because of the mistake of another person or entity, the family or friends of the deceased can raise a wrongful death lawsuit. Such lawsuits seek compensation for losses such as lost wages, funeral expenses, and loss of companionship. This article gives a detailed description of wrongful death information.

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

It is a claim that is raised when an individual dies from the fault of another person. The claim is a new concept since the common law did not give room for such lawsuits. The right for such claims was created in the last century by the state and federal courts. Each state has its own regulations and wrongful death information that residents should be conversant with.

Who can sue for wrongful death?

A claim for wrongful death is filed by a representative or a wrongful death lawyer of the survivors who suffer damage, as a result, of the decedent’s death. Some of the people represented can include:

  • Immediate family members: immediate family members such as children, parents, and spouses can make claims under the wrongful death statutes.
  • Distant family members: there are some states that permit distant family members such as sisters, brothers, and grandparents to file the wrongful death lawsuits. A grandmother, for example, who is raising a grandson, can bring the claim if his father or mother dies due to the fault of other parties.
  • Parents of a deceased fetus: the death of an expected child is known to bring financial and emotional losses to the affected parents. There are some states that permit parents to bring wrongful death claims against the health professional or other parties involved the circumstances leading to the death.

Who can be sued for a wrongful death?

The parties that can be used for wrongful death claims are such as companies, government agencies, and a wide variety of persons. The defendants in such claims include:

  • A government agent who fails to provide warnings about a road hazard that resulted in an accident
  • The owner of premises where alcohol was served
  • The persons who sold liquor to the impaired driver
  • The employer or driver at fault in automobile accidents
  • Doctor or nurse who failed to attend to the patient

Time limits for filing the claim

Each state has certain time limits known as the “statute of limitations” when raising wrongful death lawsuits. There is, however, a general that limits the period of filing claims to within two years from the date of misconduct. In some cases, the statute of limitations can be as short as one year. Some states, however, have a statute of “date of discovery” that puts the statute of limitations on hold until the harm is discovered.

What must be proven?

For the defendant to be held liable, the plaintiff assisted by the wrongful death lawyer in the wrongful death claim must provide enough evidence and substantiate it. The plaintiff must meet the same burden of proof the victim would have if he had the opportunity to live. Using negligence, for example, the plaintiff must prove the defendant had the duty to care for the victim but failed to do so.