Wrongful death is the worst personal injury someone can suffer. For a wrongful death case, such death has to be the result of someone else´s negligence or misbehavior, which includes murder. The victim´s family members or heirs may initiate a wrongful death case with the help of a wrongful death attorney.
Wrongful death lawsuits are different and parallel to possible criminal charges that may apply, and someone can be liable for wrongful death regardless of being convicted –or not- of a crime for that same death. Remember that the priority of a wrongful death action is to provide some alleviation to the persons who financially depended on the deceased.
There is a different civil “wrongful death statute” for every state, which determines the procedures or requirements to follow, as well as the damage awards.
To file a wrongful death claim, certain specific elements need to be present:
–Death. Such death must have been a consequence of the incident/accident in question.
–Negligence. Such death must have been the result of the recklessness or carelessness of the defending party. When talking about negligence, the underlying concept is that the person failed to give proper care- which always depends on the type or circumstances- to prevent harming the deceased individual. Typical cases include vehicle accidents, premises liability, product liability and medical malpractice.
–Breach of duty. It is necessary to determine that the accused owed a duty to the deceased and that such duty was breached as a result of the negligence of the accused. For example, a medical doctor has the duty to maintain and/or properly treat his/her patient´s health.
– Causation. Not only do you need to demonstrate that the defendant breached his/her duty to your family member, but also you have to prove that his/her negligence was the direct cause that led to your loved one´s death.
–Damages. Given that a wrongful death case seeks monetary compensation, the death of your loved one must have brought quantifiable damages such as medical bills, funeral expenses, income´s loss, etc. It will be necessary to prove that the death led to financial difficulties for the surviving family members.
All civil actions, including wrongful death, have time limits called “statutes of limitations” which vary from state to state. Make sure to consult a wrongful death attorney without much delay, if the prescription runs out you will lose your right to sue. A qualified local wrongful death attorney will determine your jurisdiction and will find out if you are still on time to sue on your claim.