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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. Knowing the accident that caused your loved one’s death was avoidable only adds to the pain and confusion you are feeling. Further, you may also be suffering financially as a result of your loss.
If someone you loved died in an accident caused by someone else, you should contact the experienced wrongful death attorneys from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
what are wrongful death claims?
Wrongful death cases are generally brought by the surviving loved ones of a deceased victim. After a fatal accident, depending on state wrongful death laws, the surviving spouse, child, parent, may file a claim against the party whose negligence or intentional action may have caused the victim’s death. In some states, a sibling or grandparent may file a claim. These civil cases 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. When pursuing a wrongful death claim, a skilled wrongful death lawyer is often crucial to help you navigate the complexities of seeking any compensation you may be entitled to.
Importantly, this civil claim is completely separate from any criminal charges the responsible party may have filed against them. However, any pending criminal charges may result in your wrongful death lawsuit being temporarily paused until the criminal trial is resolved.
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 slip 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
who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim?
Depending on the state, 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. Meanwhile, other states allow claims to be filed by an expanded list of eligible family members, such as any family member who was receiving direct financial support from the deceased victim.
how do i know if i have a WRONGFUL death claim?
To determine whether or not you may have a viable wrongful death claim, you should contact an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Your lawyer will discuss a variety of factors with you that are used to determine whether you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against those responsible for causing the accident which killed your loved one. These factors include:
Are You an Eligible Loved One?
While the loss of a loved one may cause pain to many friends and family of the victim, it does not mean that anyone who is grieving the victim’s loss is eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Each state has its own laws specifying which individuals may pursue compensation for the death of a loved one. For example, the following states vary in identifying those eligible to pursue wrongful death claims:
- Colorado: (1) Only spouses may file in the first year after death; (2) children may pursue a claim after the first year following the victim’s death; (3) parents may pursue a wrongful death claim if the victim left no surviving children or spouse; and (4) legal heirs may only pursue a claim if the victim left no surviving children, spouse, or parents.
- Texas: Surviving spouses, children, or parents may file a wrongful death claim, while an executor may file a claim if no such family member files a wrongful death claim within three months of the victim’s death.
- Arizona: Surviving spouses, parents, children, or personal representative may pursue wrongful death claims.
- New Mexico: Surviving spouses, children, parents, siblings, or grandchildren may file a wrongful death claim.
How Long Has Passed Since the Victim’s Death?
Every state has its own legal time limits, called the statute of limitations, which establishes how long after the death of a loved one you may file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation for your loss. In most states, this statute of limitations is generally two or three years. If the statute of limitations has already expired before you can file a wrongful death lawsuit, you will generally no longer be able to file any claim. One exception is that some states may allow the victim’s child, if they were a minor at the time of their parent’s death, to file a wrongful death suit after two years has passed. If an exception for minors applies, the statute of limitations may be tolled and not begin running until the minor turns 18.
Have You Suffered Any Losses or Expenses?
In most wrongful death cases, simply losing a loved one in an avoidable accident will not be enough to support a claim. You must also show that you actually suffered losses or have incurred expenses as a result of your loved one’s death. For example, you may need to show your costs incurred in paying for the victim’s funeral, or you may need to show that you were financially dependent on the victim’s income which has now been lost.
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.
1. Death of a Loved One
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 will need to prove that someone was killed in an accident which involved the other party somehow. This will generally be the easiest element of a wrongful death claim to prove.
2. Your Loved One’s Death Was Caused By Another Person’s Negligence
Next, as with most 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 generally 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 avoid causing an accident while driving.
- 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 generally 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 his or her negligent actions did not actually cause the fatal accident or the victim’s death.
- Unlike in other personal injury cases, the death of your loved one generally satisfies the final element of damages.
how much may IS MY wrongful death claim worth?
Compensation in a wrongful death case will differ from other personal injury cases in some respects and will also depend on the survivor’s relationship to 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 any pain and suffering that may have been experienced by the victim before he or she succumbed to the fatal injuries. Any compensation received for the “survival action” is generally considered to be compensation that the survivor could have sought had they not died from their injuries. In determining compensation in a survival action, the jury may generally consider:
- The degree to which the victim was conscious
- How long the victim lived after the accident
- The victim’s awareness of his or her 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, as a surviving family member whose relationship to the decease victim is allowed under the applicable state law for pursuing compensation, you may also be entitled to compensation for your only losses and damages. Some damages you may be able to seek compensation for include:
- Funeral and burial costs for the deceased
- Any medical expenses incurred by the victim prior to the victim’s death for treatment after being injured in an accident
- 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
Consult the wrongful death lawyers at zinda law group today
At Zinda Law Group, our skilled team of attorneys 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 attempting to learn how to move on and live your life without their continued presence in your life. Our attorneys can help you by handling your case for you and allowing you to focus on recovering emotionally as you grieve the loss of your loved one.
Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys is ready to help you pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to if your loved one was killed in a fatal accident that may have been caused by the negligent behavior of someone else. Whether your loved one was killed in a car accident, by medical malpractice, or in any other type of fatal accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses and any damages resulting from your family member’s death.