What Makes a Tragedy a Wrongful Death?

A woman with white lily flowers and coffin at funeral in church

While every tragic death leaves survivors dealing with pain and loss, not every tragedy is a wrongful death. In a wrongful death, some person or entity is responsible for an individual’s demise. The deceased did not cause his or her death by their own actions or lack of actions. A family member may file a wrongful death civil suit against the party or persons responsible for their loved one’s tragic end.

Common Wrongful Death Situations

Just like every life, every death is individual. However, there are frequent situations that may result in wrongful death. These include:

· Birth injuries

· Medical malpractice

· Occupational hazards

· Murder or manslaughter

· Motor vehicle accidents

· Product defects

Proving Wrongful Death

The person filing the wrongful death action – the plaintiff- must prove that the person or entity accused of causing the wrongful death – the defendant – was responsible. To do so, they must prove that the defendant acted in a negligent, reckless, or careless manner. They must also prove exactly how the defendant caused their loved one to die. The plaintiffs must establish that the defendant breached their duty to the deceased. For example, if the person died in a car accident after being hit by a drunk driver, the latter breached their duty not to drive while over the legal alcohol level limit.

Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim

Not just anyone can file a wrongful death claim against the party responsible for their loss. While state statutes vary on exactly which family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim, it is always someone related to the deceased who suffered economic and emotional damages because of their loved one’s death. In all states, the surviving spouse and children of the deceased may file wrongful death actions. If the deceased was single and childless, which relative may file such a suit depends on state law. Every state also has a statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time in which a wrongful death suit may be filed. That’s why it is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you suspect your loved one is a wrongful death victim.

Wrongful Death Damages

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the claimant may receive damages relating to the loved one’s death. Such damages include:

· Medical expenses

· Funeral and burial expenses

· Compensatory damages – the amount of money the deceased may have earned had their life not been cut short

· Compensatory damages for the family’s pain and suffering

In some states, punitive damages are permitted in wrongful death cases. Punitive means “punish,” and these awards, often quite large, are intended to punish the perpetrator financially for causing the death.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

If your loved one died because of the negligence of another person or their deliberate actions, you need the services of the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Branch & Dhillon, P.C. Call our office today at 817-533-3430 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.