Losing a family member is hard enough. It’s even more difficult when you know it didn’t have to happen. That’s just the emotional toll, to say nothing of the monetary losses. Thankfully, wrongful death lawsuits are there to attempt to ease the second of those hurdles. We at Hogan Injury can help you navigate the steps to filing a lawsuit. But there are a few things you should know beforehand.
What is a wrongful death suit, exactly?
“Wrongful death” is legally defined as a death that is incurred by another person or other entity’s negligence, including (but not limited to) a failure to act, carelessness, or incompetence. Family members who have lost someone in this way can file a wrongful death suit on behalf of their loved one. It’s a civil suit and does not carry with it any criminal charges. It’s simply a way for the family to recover monetary losses that follow a person’s death. Every state has at least some law of this type.
Who can file a wrongful death suit?
Anyone who has suffered as a direct result of the loved one’s death can sue for wrongful death. Most often this means immediate family members (spouses, children, parents, siblings, etc.) but it may also include distant relations who relied financially on the deceased person. Some states allow domestic partners to file wrongful deaths suits, and certain cases involving the death of an unborn fetus have also gone to court and succeeded.
How do you prove a wrongful death case?
The key aspect of proving wrongful death lies in providing evidence that the death was caused by the negligence of another or that there was intent to harm the individual. Those filing the suit must also demonstrate that they have suffered some form of loss as a direct result of the death.
How are wrongful death suit damages awarded?
This can happen in any number of ways, including:
- Loss of income (including future income)
- Loss of family member
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support system
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Mental suffering
- Hospital/burial costs
- Collective damages
Some states don’t allow for some of these compensations. Others may include other methods of receiving compensation. We recommend consulting with one of our attorneys at Hogan Injury who specialize in wrongful death suits to get the full scope of your particular case.
What are the statute of limitations regarding wrongful death?
It varies depending on what state you’re in. The general rule is that those seeking to file a wrongful death suit have one to three years to start the process of filing a claim. Again, it’s best to consult an attorney to fully understand the requirements.