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Losing your loved one in an accident is a numbing experience. Your life will suddenly come to a standstill. And if the death of your loved one was caused because of somebody else’s fault, then you will face a gamut of emotions from denial, pain, anger, and frustration. You will want the other party to get punished and will want justice for your deceased loved one, but will not know what to do about it. The flood of emotions will be so strong that it may not even occur to you that you can file a wrongful death suit. Add to that, insurance companies who will try their best to end the matter as soon as possible. That is why it is important for you to know as much as possible about wrongful death and how you can get justice in such situations.
What Can Be Considered Wrongful Death?
One of the main causes of wrongful death in the USA is auto accidents. The second largest cause is medical malpractice. Other common causes of wrongful death include:
- Accidents at the place of employment
- Industrial accidents
- Boating accidents
- Train accidents
- Exposure to Asbestos
- Manufacturing defects in products
- Fatal Burns
- Pedestrian Accidents
Who Can Be Held Accountable
Different people can be held responsible for a wrongful death claim in the USA. It depends on where and what caused the death. You can file a wrongful death claim against an individual, a company, or a government office or entity.
Damages For Wrongful Death Cases
You can claim both economic and non-economic damages. While this will not bring back the lives lost, it can help ease any economic burden on the family. The different kinds of damages that you can claim in a wrongful death case include:
- Expenses incurred for the burial and funeral
- Any medical expenses associated with the deceased
- Lost wages for the family, especially in cases where the deceased person was the only earning member
- The loss of services like household, child care, etc
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of moral support and guidance, especially if the deceased person had a child.
- Lost prospect of inheriting property
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
- The state law will mostly determine who can file a wrongful death claim. But generally, the following people can file:
- Surviving Spouse: The surviving spouse can file a wrongful death claim for loss of future income as well as the loss of consortium. Though the spouse may not be able to claim for emotional distress, he/she can claim for things that the deceased person would have provided for like child protection, aid, advice, and guidance
- Putative Spouses: Putative spouses or domestic partners are also eligible to file wrongful death claims. They will be able to get the same kind of compensation that a spouse would.
- Minor children, including step-children and adopted children of the deceased: Children can file a claim to recover the loss of guidance from the parent, companionship, and affection, and loss of financial support in the future.
- Parents or siblings of the deceased person can also file a wrongful death claim for the loss of their child or sibling.
- A representative of the deceased person’s estate
Negotiating Your Claim
Wrongful death claims are complicated. Even in such trying times, insurance companies will do everything in their power to ensure the smallest amount is given away as compensation. They will try their best to settle the matter out of court. They know that you will be extremely vulnerable and may not have the mental strength to fight for your right. So they will make the lowest offer possible and try to finish the matter. Taking the help of a personal injury attorney to deal with the insurance companies gives you a good chance of getting what you rightfully deserve.
What Proof Am I Responsible For?
The only way you can win a wrongful death suit is by proving that the other party involved was negligent, and the death was caused because of this negligence.
As per the law, there is a duty of care owed between people, and when this duty is not fulfilled, it can lead to someone’s death.
What is the Statute of Limitations on a Wrongful Death Claim
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time the deceased person’s family has to file a claim for wrongful death in court. This may differ from state to state. If the claim is not filed within the stipulated time for each state, the family members may not be able to file the claim at all.
What Will The Court Consider in a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims can be emotionally draining and complicated at the same time. The court will consider many things before determining whether the claim is valid. Even the compensation granted will depend on various factors. Some of the things that the court will consider include:
- The relationship between you and the deceased person
- The value that the deceased person brought into the claimant’s life
- The life expectancy of the deceased had he/she not died in the accident
Any medical or funeral expenses will be reimbursed directly to the person who has filed the case. Once the settlement is made and there are multiple beneficiaries who are not able to decide how to divide the amount, the court will divide the amount as it feels right.
The death of a loved one is extremely frustrating and disheartening. Getting the help of a personal injury lawyer right from the beginning can be very helpful in such trying times. A lawyer will have the experience to deal with the insurance companies and other parties involved. They will patiently listen to your case, gather as much evidence as possible, handle the insurance companies, represent you in the court of law, if need be, and ensure you get full and fair compensation for your loss.