Wrongful Death claims can be brought against the defendant who caused someone's death by negligence or intentional actions. The estate of a deceased person's estate or those who are close to him/her can file a wrongful death claim against the person legally responsible. Although wrongful death laws in each state are different, these types of lawsuits are typically filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased, often on behalf family members who were affected by the death.
When a victim, who otherwise would have a valid personal injuries claim, is killed by the defendant's wrongdoing, a wrongful death case can be filed. These can happen in many situations, including:
Intentionally killing a victim. O.J. Simpson was sued in civil court over the wrongful deaths Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. The civil lawsuits were brought by the families of the victims and were independent from the criminal case against Simpson.
Medical malpractice is when a victim is killed. A wrongful death lawsuit against a doctor may be possible if a doctor fails or is negligent in diagnosing a condition. Learn more about medical malpractice and when it's not.
Negligence can lead to car accident deaths. A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed if a victim is killed as a result car accident injuries.
These are just some examples of personal injuries that could lead to wrongful death cases. Wrongful death claims can be made for almost any type of personal injury, with the exception of work-related injuries that cause death. These cases are usually handled through worker's compensation.
To hold the defendant responsible in a wrongful-death claim, the plaintiffs (usually through the estate the victim died) must prove that the victim would have met the same burden of proof if the victim had lived. This means that the plaintiffs must prove that the victim owed the defendant a duty to care, that the defendant violated that duty, and that the victim suffered the damages the plaintiff seeks to recover. Find out more about how to prove negligence in a personal injury claim.
A representative of the estate of a victim is the one who files a wrongful death claim on behalf of survivors. The exact identity of the survivors varies from one state to another.
A spouse can bring a wrongful-death action for the benefit of their deceased spouse in all 50 states. Minor parents may also file a wrongful-death action in the event that one of their children dies. Minors can seek compensation for the loss of a parent. States begin to differ on whether adults can sue their parents for wrongful deaths, whether adult children may sue their parents for wrongful birth, and whether grown siblings or extended relatives, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents, can sue. The more distant the family relationship, the more difficult it will be for a legal remedy through a wrongful-death case.
In certain states, the spouse of the deceased can bring a wrongful-death claim. However, marriage is not required. Anyone who can prove financial dependence on the deceased can also file a claim. Find out more about who is eligible to file a wrongful-death lawsuit.
There are numerous categories of losses that would entitle a survivor to receive compensation, which include: