What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim occurs when a person dies due to the legal fault or negligence of another person. The right to file a wrongful death claim in America has not always existed and is a relatively new concept. Before the late 1800’s people who had family members and loved one die as a result of the negligent actions of others could not sue for damages. Because of this loophole, both state and federal courts created “wrongful death laws.” Wrongful death claims can include all types of fatal accidents including car accidents, slip and falls accidents, and complicated medical malpractice and product liability claims. Individual people, government agencies, and companies can all be held liable for causing someone’s death due to negligence, or acting with intent to harm.
My friend was killed in a car crash. Is his family entitled to compensation?
If your friend’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, his family is absolutely entitled to be compensated. Just like all personal injury claims, in wrongful death claims it must be proven that someone else is at fault for the death. If the driver of the other car caused the accident, your friend’s family is entitled to seek damages. Even if your friend was partially at fault, damages can still be sought.
What if the driver who caused the accident didn’t have insurance?
Even in cases where the other driver is not insured or underinsured, a claim may still be made against the driver. A claim may also be made on the insurance of the driver that died. Most insurance policies now have “uninsured motorist” coverage that help in situations like this. A skilled personal injury attorney will be able to read through the insurance policy and advise you on the best course of action.
Who is entitled to be compensated in wrongful death cases?
Written law defines who can recover damages in wrongful death claims. Typically the spouse and children of the person that died are entitled to compensation. Occasionally in cases where there are no children or spouse, siblings and parents can be entitled to compensation due to a wrongful death.
How are damages determined?
There are several factors that come into play when calculating damages in a wrongful death case. The most important factor is usually the financial loss to the survivors. This is followed closely by the extent of emotional damages to the survivors. For example if a father who was the main source of support for his wife and kids died as a result of someone else’s negligence, his family would be entitled to substantial financial compensation for their loss. If a small child is the victim of wrongful death, the parents would also be entitled to substantial compensation due to their traumatic and massive emotional loss. In the end a jury will determine the amount of damages that are appropriate if settlement is not reached before trial.
If someone was killed instantly could their family still be able to get damages for pain and suffering?
Absolutely. The term “pain and suffering” in wrongful death cases also refers to the ongoing pain and suffering that loved ones must endure due to the loss of someone important to them. Of course in situations where a person did not die instantly but did endure terrible pain, that can also be a factor in receiving greater compensation.
If a person is unemployed when they die, does that effect the case?
If a person is unemployed when they are the victim of wrongful death, it does not mean that their family and loved ones cannot seek compensation. Even though the unemployed individual may not have been supporting family members monetarily, the family left behind would still be entitled to compensation for their emotional loss and suffering.
How long does someone have to file a wrongful death claim?
All states have different statutes of limitation that dictate how long you can wait to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If you think that your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, or as a deliberate act, it is extremely important you contact a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer will be able to get to the facts and help make sure you receive the maximum compensation for your loss.
The attorneys at Fellows Hymowitz Rice P.C. have a record of success in handling a wide range of cases including wrongful death claims. We bring the same individual commitment and dedication to each case, big or small. If you have been injured or sustained loss in any type of accident as a result of someone else’s fault call us for a free confidential consultation at 845-639-9300.
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