When your loved one has died as a result of the negligence of other forms of wrongful act of another person/party, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Such kinds of claims are specifically designed to compensate the members of the family of the person who died, for the losses sustained as a result of the death. But, when these happen, the family members are often left in confusion about how to make a claim or who has the right to do so. The information below will provide a deeper understanding of what is wrongful death and who has the right to file a claim.
What is A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?- The Two Approaches
1. Historical Approach- Way back in the past, one cannot sue someone in civil court for the death of another person. In simple terms, the perpetrator of the killing can still go to jail, but the family of the decedent (of the person who has died) cannot sue for money damages. As a consequence of such rule, when a person injures another person, the perpetrator is better off financially when the victim died, either after the injury or anytime prior to the trial.
2. Modern Approach- In today’s time, each state has enacted laws that supersede the harshness of the historical approach. In general, wrongful death statutes do not allow a representative of the decedent, or the decedent’s estate to sue for civil damages, which may include damages for sorrow, grief, and mental suffering.
Who can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Though every state has statutes that create a right to recover for wrongful death, the person or persons who are permitted to file a lawsuit may significantly vary from one state to the other. But in most cases involving wrongful death, the personal representative of the deceased person is authorized to file a lawsuit against those who are involved and responsible for the death of a person. Liability may arise, for both intentional and negligent acts.
The allocation of the damages between the heirs of the decedent is governed by statute and is typically subject to court oversight. In most cases, courts may opt to look to the laws of interstate succession in relation to how the damages should be distributed, but they are ordinarily free to approve the distributions which award damages to certain members of the family.
However, one unfortunate aspect when it comes to a wrongful death case is the jockeying between relatives to control the personal representative of the estate- such as getting an attorney to have greater influence over the distribution of any award of damages. This can be very unpleasant and disruptive when families are more concerned about how to divide the award of damages, instead of feeling devastated for a lost loved one.
Damages Permitted in A Wrongful Death Case
• Hospital, medical, funeral, and burial expenses
• Compensation for pain and suffering
• Losses suffered by the spouse, children, or the next of kin. These losses include:
• loss of service
• loss of financial support
• loss of guidance and parental training
• loss of valuable gratuities
• loss of companionship
In order to deal with a wrongful death lawsuit and to receive justice and proper compensation for a lost loved one, it’s best to hire a personal injury lawyer who specializes in wrongful death cases.