Losing a loved one is one of life’s most challenging experiences, and it becomes even more devastating when that loss is the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. In such tragic circumstances, seeking justice and compensation through a wrongful death claim can provide a sense of closure and financial security for the surviving family members.
What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?
As a an experienced wrongful death lawyer – including those who practice at Hall-Justice Law Firm LLC – can explain in detail personalized to a family’s unique situation, a wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit filed by the surviving family members or beneficiaries of a deceased individual against the party or parties whose negligence or misconduct caused the death. The goal of a wrongful death claim is to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and seek compensation for the losses suffered by the survivors as a result of the death.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death claims can arise from a wide range of circumstances, including but not limited to:
- Car Accidents: When a person is killed in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence or recklessness, a wrongful death claim may be pursued.
- Medical Malpractice: If a healthcare provider’s negligence or errors lead to a patient’s death, the surviving family may have grounds for a wrongful death claim.
- Workplace Accidents: In cases where a workplace accident results in a fatal injury, the deceased employee’s family may file a claim against the employer or other responsible parties.
- Defective Products: If a defective product causes fatal injuries, the manufacturer or distributor may be held liable in a wrongful death claim.
- Criminal Acts: In situations where a person’s death is caused by another’s criminal actions, the responsible party may face both criminal charges and a wrongful death claim in civil court.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
To establish a successful wrongful death claim, certain key elements must be proven:
- Duty of Care: It must be demonstrated that the responsible party owed a duty of care to the deceased individual. For example, a driver has a duty to operate their vehicle safely.
- Breach of Duty: It must be shown that the responsible party breached their duty of care through negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.
- Causation: There must be a direct link between the breach of duty and the death of the individual. In other words, the wrongful actions or negligence must be the proximate cause of the death.
- Damages: The surviving family members must have suffered measurable damages as a result of the death. These damages may include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, and emotional pain and suffering.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most jurisdictions, wrongful death claims can be filed by immediate family members such as spouses, children, and parents of the deceased. In some cases, other dependents or individuals who suffered financially as a result of the death may also be eligible to file a claim. Some jurisdictions only allow the “personal representative” of the deceased’s estate to file for damages.
Seeking Legal Representation
Navigating a wrongful death claim can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the emotional trauma of losing a loved one. This is where the expertise of a wrongful death lawyer becomes invaluable. An experienced attorney can guide a family through the legal process, conduct a thorough investigation, build a strong case, negotiate with insurance companies, and, if necessary, represent an affected family in court to better ensure that justice is served.