What is a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death claims exist when someone dies due to the legal fault of another. Wrongful death is a relatively new cause of action, as it was not recognized in English common law. However due to the evolution of American jurisprudence over the last century, now every state has a wrongful death law.
Wrongful death lawsuits allege that the deceased was killed because of the negligence (or other liability) of the defendant. Wrongful death cases can result from auto accidents, medical malpractice claims, and product liability actions. Legally, individuals, entities, and governments can be held legally liable for wrongful death for negligent or intentional actions.
Who May Sue for Wrongful Death?
Typically the estate of the deceased is the one to file suit on behalf of the decedent (the deceased), as they are the party recognized under the law as having suffered the injury. The most commonly allowed parties to bring suit are the deceased’s immediate family members (spouses and children), financial dependents, and distant family members (siblings, grandparents). If a party does not belong to these categories but has suffered loss as a result of the death of another, consult an attorney immediately to see if there is a possibility that your state may have other categories of parties eligible to bring wrongful death suits.
Who Can Be Sued for Wrongful Death?
Many parties can be sued for wrongful death including individuals, businesses, and government entities. In an example of a death as the result of a medical procedure, possible parties to be sued include:
- The physician who performed the operation and his or her business
- The nurses and staff who provided the care of the deceased
- The hospital where the deceased was treated
- Medical device manufacturers if it is alleged that there was a problem with the instruments used
- Drug manufacturers of the drugs used to treat the deceased
Some government entities are immune from suit. It is best to consult with an attorney to provide guidance on which government entities can be sued for wrongful death.
What Damages are Available?
In wrongful death actions, the estate of the deceased can recover awards for economic and non-economic damages. The damage awards from these actions belong to the estate and may pass to different parties as directed by the deceased’s will. Economic damages include lost wages of the deceased, medical and funeral costs, loss of benefits, loss of inheritance, and the goods and services the deceased would have provided. Non-economic damages include grief and suffering of the survivors, loss of care, loss of consortium, and loss of society. Consult an attorney to understand more about the damages to which you may be entitled.
Get a free case evaluation online. Our wrongful death lawyers can give you a straightforward valuation of your potential claim. If you do have a case, we are aggressive in our pursuit of a fair settlement for your emotional distress and or lost wages resulting from a wrongful death. Contact the law offices of David Kremin today at (800) 275-2529.
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