Do I Have A Wrongful Death Case?Last updated on: September 5, 2022
Losing a loved one is a painful experience. However, this pain may be worse when your loved one died in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. If someone you loved died in an accident caused by someone else, you may wonder, “Do I have a wrongful death case?”
When an accident that causes your loved one’s death was avoidable, you may be able to sue the person responsible if you can prove negligence. Contact the experienced wrongful death attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If you decide to sue and we do not win your case, you will not owe us anything.
What Are Wrongful Death Claims?
Wrongful death cases are civil cases that allow a victim’s family members to pursue compensation for expenses incurred by the victim’s death as well as for any losses they have suffered by the loss of their loved one. Wrongful death claims are brought by the surviving loved ones of a deceased victim.
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Claim?
After a fatal accident, the surviving spouse, child, or parent may file a wrongful death claim against the party whose negligence or intentional action caused the victim’s death. It will depend on the state’s laws.
In some states, a sibling or grandparent may file a claim. In any case, only certain individuals are eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim after a loved one is killed in an accident.
Some states restrict these claims to immediate family members of the deceased victim only, such as children, spouses, or parents. Other states allow claims to be filed by an expanded list of eligible family members, such as any family member receiving direct financial support from the deceased victim. When pursuing a wrongful death claim, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of seeking compensation in your state.
The Key Elements Of Wrongful Death Cases
As with other personal injury claims, your attorney will need to prove that the other person’s negligent behavior caused the accident which led to the death of your loved one. To prove negligence, your lawyer will need to prove four essential elements:
First, you must prove the other party owed the victim some duty of care, such as a duty of care to avoid driving while intoxicated or to refrain from texting while driving.
2. Breach of Duty
Next, you will need to prove that the other party breached this duty of care to your loved one by failing to act as a reasonable person would have, such as by running a red light.
You must also prove that this breach of the duty of care actually caused your loved one’s death, as the negligent party will not be held liable if their negligent actions did not indeed cause the fatal accident or the victim’s death.
The final element of a negligence claim is to show that you did, in fact, incur damages. Unlike in other personal injury cases, the death of your loved one usually satisfies this final element.
Common Wrongful Death Causes
Wrongful death claims arise from a variety of incidents and accidents. Some of the most common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Premises accidents such as slips and falls
- Intentional actions such as shootings, stabbings, or other acts of violence
- Birth injuries
- Workplace accidents
- Exposure to toxic or hazardous substances
- Medical malpractice
- Defective products
- Nursing home or assisted living abuse and neglect
- Abuse, neglect, or negligent supervision at a daycare, adult care facility, or on field trips
How Do I Prove A Wrongful Death Claim?
Simply providing a copy of the death certificate of a loved one who died in an avoidable accident may not be enough to support a wrongful death claim. A few more pieces of evidence must be shown to the insurance or court to prove the validity of your claim.
The first element of a wrongful death claim, unsurprisingly, requires you to prove that your loved one died. In addition to a death certificate from the vital records office, you must prove that the victim was killed in an accident involving the other party. This may be the easiest element of a wrongful death claim to prove.
After establishing that a death did occur, you must then be able to show the “wrongful” element. As discussed before, this will most often be accomplished by showing that another party acted negligently. However, other circumstances may result in a wrongful death claim, such as cases involving defective products or intentional medical malpractice.
How Much Can You Sue For Wrongful Death?
Compensation in a wrongful death case will differ from the recovery for other personal injury cases; it will also depend on the survivor’s relationship with the deceased. Each case is unique, and the amount of compensation you may be entitled to will depend on the circumstances of your specific claim.
First, the victim’s loved ones may be able to pursue a “survival action” to seek compensation when the deceased did not die immediately after being injured in an accident. In such a survival action, the surviving family member may be able to pursue compensation for pain and suffering experienced by the victim before they succumbed to the fatal injuries.
Any compensation received for the “survival action” is considered compensation the victim could have sought had they not died from their injuries. In determining compensation in a survival action, the jury may consider:
- The degree to which the victim was conscious
- How long the victim lived after the accident
- The victim’s awareness of their impending death
- The severity of the victim’s injuries and the resulting severity of any pain experienced by the victim between the time of the accident and the time the victim ultimately passed away
Compensation For Family Members’ Loss Of A Loved One
Any compensation received for the victim’s pain and suffering is generally allowed as part of the “survival action.” However, a surviving family member may also be entitled to compensation for losses and damages. Some damages a survivor may be able to seek compensation for include:
- Funeral and burial costs for the deceased
- Medical expenses incurred by the victim for treatment after the accident and prior to the victim’s death
- The loss of the deceased victim’s expected income if the victim was financially supporting you
- The loss of consortium with a deceased spouse
- The loss of care, nurturing, or parental guidance that you would have received from your deceased parent
- The value of any other services that the victim may have provided
- The loss of any inheritance as a result of your loved one’s death
- The loss of companionship and love of your deceased loved one
How Are Wrongful Death Settlements Paid Out?
Wrongful death settlements are typically paid in lump sums or structured settlements. It is up to you and the other party or parties to work out how the money will be paid. Circumstances of the person against whom the claim is filed usually dictate how a settlement gets disbursed.
Our Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys Can Help
Our skilled team of attorneys at Zinda Law Group can help you pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to after your loved one was injured in an accident and died. We understand the difficulty of burying your loved one and trying to learn how to move on and live your life without their continued presence in your life.
Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our wrongful death attorneys. You will not pay anything unless we can win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.