A wrongful death claim can be filed by a victim’s family members on behalf of their loved one, in the event that a person dies due to an intentional or negligent violent act of another person. Every state has legislation that applies to filing a wrongful death claim as they can be very complex. The victim’s living family members are filing such lawsuits typically with a personal injury lawyer.
Sometimes, additional criminal charges can be brought forth in addition to a suspect carrying out an intentional, violent act, are grounds for a wrongful death claim. Examples of accidents that can lead to the justification of a wrongful death claim:
- Medical malpractice
- Auto accidents
- Product liability accident
- Construction Accidents
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
When a loved one passes as the result of a wrongful death, there are certain family members eligible to file a claim. Eligibility to file a claim is restricted depending on the state. Much of the time, the victim’s children and/or spouses are viable claimants. Life partners, siblings and grandparents are also eligible to file a claim in some states. Despite whether or not the deceased was related, an individual dependant may also be eligible. Claims filed by several individuals who are in pursuit of a wrongful death claim for a loved one are often combined into a single claim.
Wrongful Death Cases and Damages
There are several types of damages that can be recovered by the deceased person’s estate as dictated by the wrongful death act in your state.
- Emotional damages (victim)
- Loss of decedent’s future earnings
- Funeral expenses
Whether or not the deceased had a will is often irrelevant for purposes of disbursement of a wrongful death award. If the victim died in the absence of a will, any award is distributed.
The survival action is significant if a victim’s injuries do not result in their immediate demise. Survival actions permit the estate executor to seek damages that the victim is entitled to. It is common that compensation be provided to the victim for pain and suffering that the victim experienced while still alive.
It can vary from state to state in terms of damages that may be awarded to the victim or victim’s family but can include:
- Earnings lost leading up to death
- Punitive damages
- Medical expenses
A victim needs to only have survived for a short period of time from the accident to the time of death in order for an estate to bring for a wrongful death case. Fright suffered before death, temporary disability and pain and suffering are other damages that may be sought depending on the state. When a wrongful death claim is awarded it can come with many obstacles. Each situation is different. It can be a good idea to seek a qualified Sacramento estate lawyer to provide professional guidance on such complex matters.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning practice.