Life happens and sometimes that means there are accidents. No one means to but sometimes people get hurt or worse, sometimes they are killed. When this happens, the survivors are left wondering what they can do for compensation. They are left struggling due to lost wages and funeral expenses. This is when the survivors file a wrongful death suit.
What does wrongful death mean?
Wrongful death happens when someone dies through the fault of a person or company. It could a single person in a car accident or it could be a faulty product produced by a company that resulted in a death. These suits can involve everything from a simple accident to a medical procedure gone wrong, of a faulty liability case. Individual people, companies, and even government agencies can be found legally at fault for negligence or for acting in an intentionally harmful way.
Who can file a wrongful death suit?
There is a limitation on who can file a wrongful death suit. They should be acting on behalf of the survivors of the deceased who are suffering due to this loss of life. These people are called “real parties of interest.” Sometimes this can be an executor of the estate, but the list can vary from state to state. There are others who can file in addition of the executor:
● Immediate family members. All states allow immediate family, spouses and parents, to file a wrongful death suit.
● Life partners or dependents. Some states will allow life partners or anyone that was wholly dependent on the deceased to file.
● Distant family members. Some states allow for distant relatives such as a grandparent, sister, or brother to file a suit.
● Parents of a fetus. When an accident happens through negligence or attack, parents of an unborn child can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of the unborn baby.
Who can be sued for a wrongful death suit?
Different types of people can be sued for a wrongful death. It could be a single person as in a car accident. It could be a company in the case of a faulty product or part. The government could be sued if they failed to provide warning of a hazard in time. Some examples are:
● The driver in a car accident
● The person who sold alcohol to someone already intoxicated or impaired driver
● The owner of the location that served the alcohol, be it a store or a bar
● The company if a part on the car is faulty
● The builder of a faulty highway
● The government if adequate warning was not provided in a timely manner
Know your statutes of limitations.
Most cases have a statue of limitation and wrongful death suits are no exception. This limits how long someone must file the claim before the opportunity is gone permanently. In most state the immediate relatives get 1-3 years depending on the state to file a case.
Talk to an attorney.
The best course of action is to speak with a wrongful death specialist if you feel you have a case. They will help you gather all the necessary information and file all the correct paperwork. They will help you understand the laws surrounding a wrongful death suit which will help ease some of the stress of the case.
Understand your reimbursement options.
The courts will ultimately decide if and what reimbursements you are going to receive. These could include:
● Loss of income including future income
● Pain and suffering
● Loss of quality of life
● Hospital and burial costs
● Inheritance loss
● Mental suffering
● Support system loss
● Loss of companionship
● Collective damages
● Loss of a family member.
These can vary from state to state and some courts don’t allow compensations to be discussed. Make sure you speak with your attorney to fully understand the laws and statues of your case.
Wrongful death is hard enough without a lengthy court battle. Get a wrongful death attorney from the start to make the process as smooth as possible. They can tell you what to expect during the case. Make sure you are informed on what your state will allow and what the processes are.