The death of a loved one can bring so much grief and frustration to the family, more so if the said death was untimely, sudden, and caused by other people. The unexpected demise can be traumatic, and it is just natural for the person’s family to want to uncover the real reason for it. It is also usual for family members hold the other party responsible for the loved one’s death.
As mentioned, wrongful death is caused by another person either due to misconduct or negligence. Such death may arise out of several circumstances such as in the case of criminal behavior, airplane or automobile accident, medical malpractice, and occupational accident.
Below, we have detailed the legal considerations you need to remember if a family member had died a wrongful death.
For every wrongful death claim, one party is held responsible for it. Since wrongful death is the death of a person caused by the actions of another, anyone, including doctors, business owners, and ordinary citizens can be held liable for a careless or negligent act that caused a person’s death. The bottom line is whether or not we are aware of the implications of our actions, we are responsible for them.
Before you go running to the court to file a wrongful death suit, you must first identify the elements that constitute one. To be successful in bringing such a case into action, the following must be present:
Not just anyone can file a wrongful death suit. The claim can be made by any of the surviving family members of the person who died, which include the following: the parents, siblings, wives, and children. While those mentioned can make claims, damages received may vary because some plaintiffs have suffered more loss than others.
For example, if the father of a child died due to an accident at work, the child will receive a larger amount of compensation than his grandmother or aunt (his father’s sibling) who receives a monthly allowance of $100 from the decedent because he is solely dependent from his father. Often, identifying who can file a claim is easier than determining the damages and everyone’s compensation.
If an employee is injured due to an accident, a personal injury claim cannot be filed if worker’s compensation is in place. This is because the worker’s compensation is expected to cover any losses the employee may suffer from the work-related injury. If, however, your loved one died due to a work-related accident, you can file a wrongful death suit against the company.
In wrongful death claims, you can recover two types of damages: pecuniary and punitive damages.
1) Pecuniary Damages
The main measure of damage in wrongful death claims is monetary injury or pecuniary injury in legal term. The courts have generally interpreted pecuniary injuries as:
When calculating for the pecuniary loss, there are several considerations to be made, including the decedent’s:
While the process may come easily to many, considering that the considerations only include those mentioned in the list the calculation can get complicated as the measure of damages should be the actual monetary loss. In most cases, you can hire an expert witness to calculate the damages incurred. They will also be the ones to explain to the jury the calculations made and why you deserve the indicated amount.
2) Punitive Damages
In cases where serious and malicious wrongdoing is present, punitive damages are assigned to punish the doer or to prevent others from committing the same thing. Depending on the state or country, plaintiffs may be able to recover punitive damages in wrongful death claims. A lawyer should be able to advise you if punitive damages are permissible or not.
All civil actions have time limits for when they should be filed, and wrongful death claims are not an exception. It is important to learn about the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in your country or state as wrongful death claims generally have shorter limits compared to other actions. If the wrongful death of a loved one is discovered, you should consult an expert attorney as soon as possible. Click here to access legal services from a reliable wrongful death lawyer.
Aside from the pain and frustration resulting from the death of a loved one, you still have to undergo the tedious process of filing a wrongful death suit to recover damages. Asking the help and service of an experienced attorney will help lift the burden of having to deal with all the legal complications. With the right support, you’ll be able to overcome an unfortunate situation.
Joanne Reed has been writing about law and business for almost a decade, and is currently writing her next big law project. She is an avid sports fan and loves watching games if she has free time.