Has a wrongful death affected your family? It’s important to call a lawyer experienced in these special cases.
When someone dies or is killed due to negligence or misconduct of another person, family members may want to sue for wrongful death. Typical causes of wrongful death are medical malpractice, vehicle or airplane accidents, hazardous substances in the workplace, criminal behavior, or death during a supervised activity.
Wrongful death cases are filed in civil court, but if someone died as a result of a criminal action like murder, a civil case can still be filed. One example is the case of O.J. Simpson. He was found not guilty in criminal court, but the families of victims who died were awarded significant financial damages in civil court.
Most legal guidelines say wrongful death cases need to include the following elements:
- A human being has died.
- That death was caused by another’s negligence, or with intent to cause harm to that person.
- Family members are suffering financially because of the wrongful death.
- A personal representative has been appointed for the estate of the person who died.
- In most states, law suits for wrongful death may only be brought by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. Every state has specific procedures for bringing wrongful death actions. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties, as directed by the victim’s will or the court.
Financial injury is the main measure for awarding financial damages in a wrongful death case. Injuries could include the loss of support, services, lost inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses. In most states, compensation for financial losses that resulted from the death must be fair and just. Costs for medical care or funeral expenses may also be included, along with interest from the date of death.
As difficult as it may be to think about legal issues when you’re grieving, it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights. There are deadlines for bringing a legal action for wrongful death against those who are responsible. You don’t want to miss those deadlines.