Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
When an individual dies as a result of an accident or injury caused by the negligence or misconduct of another individual, company or other entity, then you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the offending party.
The elements of a wrongful death claim are the same as those of a personal injury claim, with the qualification that the negligence or misconduct of the offending party led to the death of the person on behalf of which the loved ones are making the claim. In both types of cases, the plaintiff must prove that it was the fault or misconduct of the individual, company or other entity in question that resulted in the death of their loved one.
Rules regarding who is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit vary by state, as do the stipulations regarding the statute of limitations on filing the suit. This is why it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney about your case if you are in question as to whether or not you qualify or should proceed toward such a claim.
In general, immediate relatives of deceased individuals are able to file wrongful death suits as representatives of their loved one’s estate, whereas the more distant in relation to the deceased relative or loved on is, the less likely their chances of being able to successfully make the claim. Again, consulting with a legal professional concerning your case will help you determine your qualification for filing. Courts do often recognize life partners, financial dependents and putative spouses, which are individuals who considered themselves married to the deceased individual for all intents and purposes, who never legally filed for marriage.
Wrongful death lawsuits can take place in connection to homicide charges, when the family members or other estate representatives decide to file suit against the offending party following a criminal homicide trial. In the wrongful death suit, a lower threshold of evidence is required to successfully win the case; while a criminal trial requires that guilt be proven beyond reasonable doubt, a civil trial requires that the defendant’s guilt be determined by a preponderance of the evidence.
The objective of a plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit is to recover compensation from the defendant for economic damages such as lost expected earnings of the deceased, non-economic damages such as the survivors’ mental anguish and suffering, and punitive damages to punish the wrongdoing of the defending party. Contact our experienced team of attorneys here at Gill Ladner and Priest to learn more about how we can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit.