If a person is injured due to someone else’s actions, a personal injury claim can be filed against the liable party, but what if that injured person dies? This is why wrongful death claims exist.
If a person was injured as a result of another’s negligence, and and that person dies from those injuries, a wrongful death claim can be filed to compensate the decedent’s family. If the decedent had a personal injury case already in place by the time he died, the personal injury case can survive and be sought by the surviving family members.
What is the Process of a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are a couple of ways that a wrongful death case can be brought.
The first is by the decedent making a personal injury case against the defendant and dying because of the injuries that the decedent was suing for before the case is resolved. In this situation, damages that would have been awarded to the victim will instead be awarded to the decedent’s family along with additional compensation for other damages associated with the victim’s death.
The second way a wrongful death claim can be filed is if the decedent was killed at the time of the incident or shortly thereafter such that he did not file a personal injury claim. In this case, compensation will still be awarded to the surviving family members, but compensation can be limited to damages other than the victim’s pain and suffering – assuming the victim did not suffer before his death.
Regardless of what type of wrongful death case is being sought, the first step in a wrongful death claim is to appoint an executor for the victim’s estate. Unless the victim appointed an executor in his will, this position is often given to the spouse of the deceased or the closest living family member. The executor of the estate will deal with legal matters pertaining to the deceased, and will represent the interests of the deceased in court if needed. A representative of an estate must be 18 years of age or older, mentally and ably fit to represent the deceased, and have no criminal felonies.
The executor will then work with a wrongful death lawyer to asses what damages the family is entitled to, and develop a legal strategy to settle or try the case.
In order to have a valid wrongful death claim the plaintiff must prove:
- That a close family member has died.
- The defendant is responsible for this family member’s death due to his negligence or intent.
- The surviving family members are suffering monetary and/or personal injuries because of the family member’s death.
What Kind of Damages can be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Case?
The damages that can be recovered for a wrongful death case include but are not limited to:
- Medical and funeral fees
- Loss of support and guidance from the deceased
- Emotional distress of the surviving family
- Pain and suffering of the decedent
- Lost financial support due to the death of the deceased
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of service of the decedent.
If you have had a close family member pass away recently, you may be entitled to compensation. Consult with a wrongful death lawyer to find out whether you are entitled to compensation.