A wrongful death claim allows the estate of a deceased victim to sue those responsible for their deaths. The suit is generally brought on behalf of the victim’s surviving family members. The plaintiffs bringing the suit must be able to prove to the court that the defendant’s direct actions or lack thereof, caused the death of the victim.
Determine If You Have a Wrongful Death Claim
There are many different circumstances where a death can be considered for a wrongful death claim. Commonly, a wrongful death claim is applicable when there is a fatality due to negligence, medical malpractice or the victim is murdered. Another way of looking at whether you have a wrongful death claim is to determine if the victim would have had a personal injury claim if they had survived.
Determine If You Can Prove the Claim
When filing a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs must meet certain criteria of proof. They need to prove that the defendant caused the death of the victim. This could have happened due to intentional negligence, direct actions or a breach of a duty of care.
Determine If You Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
When determining if you can file a wrongful death claim, you have to figure out if you have the legal right to pursue a claim. Each state has different criteria to determine this. Commonly, survivors who had a personal relationship with the victim may file a wrongful death claim. The plaintiffs may be parents, children, spouses or extended family members of the victim. In some states, life partners of the victim also have the right to file a claim.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Filing a wrongful death claim can be a long and tedious process (Source: Tanner Law Firm). Hiring a personal injury lawyer is the best option to ensure that the court forms are filled out correctly and that no steps are inadvertently missed in the process. A personal injury lawyer is well versed in the statutes of limitations of filing a wrongful death claim. They can also advise their clients on which damages to pursue.
Decide What Damages You Wish to Pursue
A wrongful death claim is one of the most emotional lawsuits to pursue. It is very difficult to decide what damages to pursue. Plaintiffs and their personal injury lawyer should work together to decide the best ones for their case. Medical costs, funeral and burial costs, loss of income, loss of companionship and survival claims are common damages to pursue in a wrongful death lawsuit.
When faced with the death of a loved one, it is difficult to think about the legalities of the situation. There are statutes that limit the window of time that a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. If you believe that you have a case, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later to ensure the window of time is not missed.
This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.