Wrongful death is defined as a civil case where the plaintiff seeks damages against a party that is responsible for the death of a family member, friend or loved one due to negligence. Stinnett accuses her doctor of providing negligent care that caused her to miscarry.
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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.
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“Damages” is a legal term that means “the amount of money that will compensate you for your loss.” Of course, no amount of money can compensate you for the loss of your loved one. That said, there are a number of types of damages you may be entitled to, that may at least begin to fill some of the gaps left by the death of your loved one.
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A wrongful death claim is essentially a civil lawsuit that arises when the acts of one person (their negligence) causes the death of another person.
According to the most recent ascertainable statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there was a slight increase of .01 percent in 2014 from 2013. What’s startling though is that for the first half of 2015, the death estimate has increased by 8.1 percent from 2014. This represents a significant spike from previous years.
But compensation can be an important way to seek justice and to pay for the expenses resulting from your loved one's death. Generally speaking, the following parties are eligible to file a wrongful death claim...
If no family members pursue a case within 3 months and no survivors expressly indicate a desire to forgo a lawsuit, then the deceased’s executor can do so.
If you do decide that you must pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, however, it is important to ensure that you include these four items in your case...
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Bill Coats Law specializes in wrongful death cases in devastating car accidents. With empathy and grit, our lawyers walk survivors through the complicated process of financial recovery. Click here for this guide to basic questions answered about damages recoverable in wrongful death cases.
So many pieces come crashing down when someone dies in a car accident. Funeral expenses, medical bills, and losing what feels priceless are compounded by wages lost. What is recoverable? Bill Coats Law answers this common question in wrongful death cases.
It can be yet another devastating blow to learn that the person who killed someone you love in a car accident doesn't have a high enough policy to cover the wages your family will lose. But don't despair. There is a way to seek these damages. Click to learn more about uninsured motorist coverage in wrongful death claims.
After an automobile accident, especially when someone has died, it's natural to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what happens next. Bill Coats Law, in Bellingham Washington, has put together a YouTube Channel to answer some common question in hopes to help accident victims start on the right path to full financial recovery. Click here to get the answers you need.
Bellingham personal injury lawyer Bill Coats recorded a series of videos to discuss common policies and pitfalls of the insurance claims process. One of these is called subrogation, and is an important concept that accident victims and survivors of those who were fatally injured need to know. To learn more about this common insurance policy aspect, click here.
Negligence can come in so many forms, but in essence means that someone was supposed to do something in a certain way, and did not. This heart-breaking case shows how a personal injury lawyer in Bellingham, WA worked on a wrongful death claim for a child killed because of a long chain of unfortunate events that could have been prevented if not for a government official's negligence.
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Deaths that occur needlessly due to someone else's negligence are very complex situations. Along with all the emotions that a survivor must sort through, the loss brings up financial questions and concerns. How to pay for funeral costs? And if the deceased was a financial provider, how will their income be replaced? Here's the one thing you should do as soon as possible. Click this link to watch a short video to answer the most frequently asked question of survivors of fatal accidents.
No one wants to lose a loved one to an accident. But to lose someone because of the negligence or recklessness of another person makes the loss that much harder. Survivors often face anger and confusion in the aftermath of a wrongful death, and yet have so many decisions to make, from funeral arrangements to learning how to live without their loved ones. And making ends meet can be more pain on top of what feels insurmountable. If your loved one was killed while riding their bike, it is unfortunately not likely that the insurers from the negligent driver’s car company are going to offer compensation that fully covers your losses. Having a personal injury attorney on your side can make your financial recovery possible so that you can focus on the emotional healing. Click for more information on filing wrongful death claims from a bike accident.
A vehicle accident is scary, frightening, and awful. When that wreck results in the death of your loved one, it is one of the hardest things in life to go through. If it’s because of a truck driver or company’s negligence, it’s unconscionable. While you might want to file a lawsuit against the responsible parties, the thought of that might feel insurmountably difficult. You know it will be a long, uphill battle, and will take lot of mental and emotional preparation. Truck companies can be ruthless in dealing with accident victims, and will be trying to discredit you or simply fluster and frustrate you when you’re grieving, and just trying to stay afloat after a loved one’s death. Is your best option to simply take what the trucking company offers you in a wrongful death claim?
If your loved one has been killed in an accident, you are probably hearing about this term "personal representative" perhaps for the first time. How is a personal representative appointed after a wrongful death claim? It's a legal process, not an automatic one. A personal representative must file a petition with the court asking to be appointed. Along with the petition, the court must be provided all supporting documents related to the death (i.e., certificate and will). The process can be complex even at a highly emotional and stressful time. To learn more about appointing a personal representative after a wrongful death claim, click to watch this video interview.
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