This is a guest post by Rommel John, who writes for Baileypartners.com.
Legally, “wrongful death” may be defined as the loss of an individual’s life due to the willful or negligent actions of someone else. State law determines who may file an action for wrongful death and what limits may apply to the damages awarded.
Wrongful death actions are heard in civil courts, as opposed to criminal courts, and a verdict in one does not affect the other. That is, someone who is acquitted of a murder or manslaughter charge may still be sued in civil court. Intentional and unintentional acts that lead to a death can be the basis for a wrongful death lawsuit.
For instance, the family of the soccer referee who died after being struck in the face by a 17-year-old player has solid grounds for a lawsuit. The young man’s intentions in striking the referee are irrelevant to the lawsuit because the action that led to the death was intentional. Likewise, the driver of an automobile who unintentionally causes another person’s death may still be held liable if it can be proven that the driver was negligent in respect to the car or the accident.
Just how widespread the issue of wrongful death is can be seen from this chart compiled by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. For the year 2010, “unintentional injury” was the leading cause of death for all persons from 1 year old up to 44 years old. Homicide was the second leading cause of death for persons from 15 to 24 years old, and the third leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and adults ages 25 to 34. Unintentional injury was also the third leading cause of death for adults from 45 to 54 years of age.
Any death by violence is going to bring severe upheaval and financial loss to the surviving family members. The services of an attorney are essential to assuring the family some coverage for the extraordinary expenses they will face. Especially in cases of death by unintentional injury, the attorney is indispensable in determining whether negligence is involved.
If your family faces the devastation of a wrongful death, find a good lawyer as soon as possible.