Four FAQs about Wrongful Death Cases
If a party, entity, or individual has caused the premature death of your loved one, you may sue for a wrongful death case. Often, these cases are sudden, and families have no idea how to handle these situations. Here are four frequently asked questions about this matter.
What is a wrongful death?
Wrongful death lawsuits vary from one state to another. Generally speaking, a wrongful death case is defined as a civil lawsuit against a party that is alleged to have caused the death of an individual. The elements that must be fulfilled in order to create a strong case are:
- There must be the death of a human being;
- The death happened by preventable circumstances such as negligence* or carelessness, or intention to cause harm; it can also be a result of a defective design or product;
- The result of the death is financial injury to family members, and;
- A personal representative comes forward for the decedent’s estate.
*There are other specific conditions that are considered negligence. Read more here for other examples.
Who can file a wrongful death case?
The personal representative of the decedent must come forward to file a claim on behalf of the dependents, family, and/or all those who suffered the consequences of the victim’s death. The spouse, children and/or parents, or any immediate family member (depending on the victim’s context) can file a wrongful death claim.
It is important that a wrongful death claim is filed within two years from the decedent’s departure. In California, if you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations, you will lose the right to seek one.
What compensation do I get by filing a wrongful death case?
Once convicted, the party does not get jail time. They are sentenced in terms of money reparation for loss. The court decides how much the defendant must pay to the decedent’s survivors. Although no amount of money can compensate for a death of a loved one, it is still worth pursuing for the following reasons:
- Compensation for anticipated financial support
A sudden death can create a big impact on a family in terms of finances. The court can issue a sentence based on the amount of financial support the deceased person would have potentially provided if his/her life wasn’t lost.
The sudden death may have also caused loss of retirement and insurance benefits. Financial damage also includes the immediate expenses directly due to the untimely death (medical & funeral).
- Preventing future misconduct
You cannot bring your loved one back to life but you can prevent the defendant from causing another untimely death. Pursuing a lawsuit could prevent a doctor from additional medical malpractice, alter a dysfunctional product, or bring about the change of legislation regarding safety standards. A wrongful death case will never be in vain.
Is it necessary to hire an attorney?
In general, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice immediately. Hiring an attorney for wrongful death lawsuits will ensure that you receive the highest compensation. Most especially, to lessen the already big emotional turmoil of a loss, it would be best for the family if someone else will come forward to state their piece.
Wrongful death cases are complex but with an experienced attorney, you can assure a high rate of success. Contact one today.