What is wrongful death?
Wrongful death is when someone dies due to the fault of another person or entity, like a company. People, companies, and government agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently, for failing to act as a reasonable person would have acted, and for intentional acts that cause harm.
A wrongful death claim is a special kind of personal injury lawsuit that is made when a person is killed due to another party’s negligence. This type of lawsuit seeks financial compensation for the survivors’ losses including lost wages from the deceased person, expenses including funeral and burial expenses, and lost companionship.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim is filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who have suffered damages from the death. These survivors can be:
- Immediate family members including adopted children and parents of unmarried children;
- Life partners and financial dependents;
- In some states, distant family members like siblings and grandparents;
- In some states, any person who suffers a financial loss from the death.
Who may be sued for a wrongful death?
Many people, companies, and agencies can be named in a wrongful death lawsuit, depending on their roles in the fatal incident. These can include:
- The at-fault driver in a car crash;
- The person or company that sold alcohol to a drunk driver who caused a collision;
- The parole officer who should have been supervising a parolee who drove drunk;
- The government agency that designed a dangerous roadway that contributed to a crash.
To successfully complete a wrongful death suit, the plaintiffs, (the deceased person’s survivors) must prove that the at-fault party owed a duty of care to the deceased, and that they failed in that duty which was the cause of the death, and that the death caused the damages that the plaintiffs are attempting to recover.
Wrongful death claims are complicated and emotionally difficult for the surviving family members. It is always advisable to find an experienced personal injury attorney to handle a wrongful death claim, so that families can focus on healing and moving forward in life as best they can.