A wrongful death claim is one of the many different types of cases handled by a professional personal injury attorney. If a family member or spouse has died and it is the fault of another entity or person, then you are likely able to file such a claim. The goal of the claim is to receive adequate compensation for your losses caused by death. This can include funeral expenses, lost income from the deceased, or the loss of companionship.
In relation to many other laws, wrongful death claims are relatively new to the system. The earliest variations of the law were passed during the middle of the 19th century. A much greater understanding of the law has developed over the past century. However, laws can vary somewhat from one state to another. It’s important to discuss your options with a local personal injury attorney who has plenty of experience with cases in your state.
It’s possible for nearly any type of personal injury claim to become a wrongful death claim if the injured person dies because of the injury. For example, a patient may suffer serious harm because of the negligence of a doctor. This would be the basis for a standard personal injury lawsuit regarding medical malpractice. If the patient then dies it escalates into a wrongful death claim, which has far more serious consequences for the guilty party.
Proving the Case
As with most civil cases, it must be proven that a particular person or entity is at fault. Proving guilt in a wrongful death case is not very different from most other personal injury cases. It tends to involve proving that negligence occurred. This means establishing there was a duty, that the guilty party breached that duty, and that the breach of duty caused the death. Establishing these three factors will establish negligence, which then proves guilt.
Luckily, it’s not entirely up to you to prove these points. These are the types of legal matters that are best handled by professionals. Understanding the intricacies of duty, breach, and causation can be very difficult at times. It is very likely the defendant will have their own legal team attempting to prove that they were not negligent. You should never face this kind of legal struggle alone.
Can You File A Claim?
Who exactly is allowed to file a wrongful death claim will vary according to state. It is generally the representative of the deceased’s estate who brings forth the claim. The claim is made on behalf of all of the deceased’s survivors who had a relationship with the deceased. It may sound simple, but exactly who is allowed to represent the estate and who is allowed to participate in the claim can be tricky in some states.
If you are the spouse of the deceased, then you are allowed to file a wrongful death claim in all states. The same applies to parents of minors and minors whose parents have died. However, some states do not allow parents to file claims for their adult children nor do they allow adult children to file on behalf of their parents. They also may not allow adult siblings to file a claim for one another or for more distant relations, such as cousins or uncles to file.
Some states are far more flexible regarding who can file a claim. For example, some states accept claims from any individual who suffered financial loss because of death. This can apply even if the people are not related or married to the victim. Some states also allow parents to file claims on behalf of the death of a fetus.
It is also possible for certain individuals to have immunity from wrongful death claims. This immunity often extends to certain government employees and even entire agencies. For example, manufacturers of generic drugs are generally immune from wrongful death cases because their drugs were approved by the FDA.
Always Seek Professional Legal Assistance
The best way to discover if you are able to file a claim is by contacting a personal injury attorney. You can completely explain the situation and your relationship with the deceased. They will let you know if you are capable of filing a claim or if you will face extra challenges by doing so. A personal injury attorney will help you every step of the way and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.