How a Wrongful Claim Works
Wrongful death claims are brought against a defendant who’s caused someone’s death, often by negligence or associated with some intentional action or other misconduct. A wrongful death claim enables those closely related to a deceased individual to file a case against the party who is lawfully liable for the fatality.
Even though every state’s wrongful death laws are different, these types of lawsuits are generally handled by a wrongful death attorney hired by the surviving family members afflicted from the loss of their loved one.
When is this type of Claim appropriate?
A wrongful death claim may come up in a scenario where a victim who would – if still alive – have a valid personal injury claim, dies as a consequence of the defendant’s wrongful action.
This type of claim can result from a wide range of circumstances or scenarios, according to Nolo, including (but not limited to):
-When a victim is intentionally killed
-When a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice
-Car accident fatalities involving negligence
Other examples include violations of civil rights by government actors, such as improper police shootings, or neglect by jail guards or doctors. These are just a few examples of personal injury cases that can turn into wrongful death claims.
A wrongful death claim can stem from almost any kind of personal injury situation. However, one notable exception may exist for work injuries that result in death, which generally must be handled exclusively through the worker’s compensation system.
What Must Be Proven?
The lawyer working on the case must present the same burden of proof the victim would have if he or she had lived to file the lawsuit.
Using negligence as an example, this means showing that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, the breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the death, and that the death caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Representatives of the estate of the deceased victim are the ones who usually file the wrongful death claim on behalf of survivors who were close to the victim. Which survivors are permitted to bring a wrongful death claim can change from state to state.
For example, only certain people are allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit in California. Only the following can bring a wrongful death claim, according to the relevant statute:
-The victim’s surviving spouse
-The victim’s domestic partner
-The victim’s surviving children
-Anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”; that can include the deceased person’s parents or the deceased person’s siblings if there are not closer relatives.
The following parties can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit If they can show they were financially dependent on the deceased victim:
-“Putative spouse” and children of the putative spouse
-The deceased person’s parents
Wrongful Death Damages
Nolo states that: damages in a wrongful death case—categories of losses for which a survivor might be able to receive compensation—include:
-The deceased person’s pre-death “pain and suffering” (this is often called a “survival” claim).
-The medical treatment costs that the deceased victim incurred as a result of the injury before death
-Funeral and burial costs
-Loss of the deceased person’s expected income
-Loss of any inheritance as a result of the death
-Value of the services that the deceased would have provided
-Loss of care, guidance, and nurturing that the deceased would have provided
-Loss of love and companionship, and
-Loss of consortium.
In a federal civil rights wrongful death claim brought in California, the survivors of the decedent may also be able to receive damages for the decedent’s “loss of life” — the intangible value of a human life. A lawyer who specializes in both wrongful death and civil rights may be able to advise you more about such a claim.
More on Wrongful Death:
- What is an Accidental death attorney?
- What is an accidental death lawyer?
- Why You Need the Best Wrongful Death Attorney
- Unlawful Death Lawsuits in California
- What You Should Know Before Filing for Wrongful Death
- 3 Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims
- Wrongful Death Damages You Can Recover
- California Wrongful Death Law - Top things you should know
- Wrongful Death Lawsuit vs. Murder Cases
- The Basic Elements of Wrongful Death Litigation
- Finding the Best Wrongful Death Attorney
- How a Wrongful Death Claim Works
- Pursuing Wrongful Death Settlements
- Recoverable Wrongful Death Damages in California
- Seeking Wrongful Death Settlements
- Suing for Wrongful Death in California
- What is a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
- Who can be awarded Wrongful death damages
- Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
- Wrongful Death Damages
- Wrongful Death Negligence: the basics
- Receiving and Distributing Wrongful Death Settlements
- A Brief Overview of the Wrongful Death Litigation Process
- Available Defenses against Wrongful Death Lawsuits
- Quick Q&A on Wrongful Death Litigation
Haddad & Sherwin LLP has a long, successful track record winning wrongful death and other serious civil rights claims for police and jail officer misconduct, throughout Northern and Central California. Call or email us for a free consultation.