Common Questions About Wrongful Death

Posted on August 13, 2015

Common Questions About Wrongful Death

In personal injury cases where someone dies, the family members and loved ones of that person often wonder if they can file a lawsuit. These types of cases are known as wrongful death lawsuits, and are a common kind of personal injury case. While every state has its own specific rules that govern wrongful death cases, there are a number of common questions that many people have about these types of situations. Today, we’re going to take a look at some common questions surrounding wrongful death.

What is wrongful death?

Wrongful death is the legal term that describes the death of someone that results from someone else’s wrongdoing, negligence, or intentional action. In a wrongful death case, the person who has died can obviously not file a lawsuit him or herself. Instead, that person’s spouse, parents, children, or even other family members can file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

Is a wrongful death claim the same as murder?

It’s easy to confuse wrongful death lawsuits with murder, or other types of crimes, because both types of situations involve someone dying as a result of someone else’s actions. When you are talking about a wrongful death claim, however, it’s important to understand that this is a civil lawsuit, not a criminal case. Even though the person responsible for the death of someone might be criminally liable for the actions that caused the death, a wrongful death case is not the same thing as a criminal charge.

For example, let’s say that your spouse is killed after being hit by a drunk driver. Even if prosecutors choose not to file criminal charges against the driver, you can still file a wrongful death lawsuit against that person.

Further, if you file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and win, that driver will not face prison or jail because of your lawsuit. Instead, the only thing the judge in a civil lawsuit can do is to order the driver to pay monetary damages.

What are damages in a wrongful death lawsuit?

In any civil lawsuit, the person filing the lawsuit is asking a court to order the wrongdoer to pay compensation for the damage the wrongdoer caused. In wrongful death cases, these damages can arise for many reasons. For example, if it was your spouse who was killed, you can ask the court to award damages for the lost income and financial support your spouse would have provided had he or she remained alive. In addition to economic damages, wrongful death cases can also involve damages for pain and suffering, loss of companionship or affection, and loss of consortium (sexual relations) for the spouse of the deceased person.

What do I need to do to win a wrongful death lawsuit?

There is no single way to answer this type of question. Any wrongful death lawsuit must be filed in accordance with the laws of the state in which you live. There are many procedural and substantive rules that apply to these kinds of cases, and only an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area can give you advice about any wrongful death lawsuit you might wish to pursue.


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