How a Wrongful Death Claim Works
When wrongful death happens it is because the claim was brought against the defendant who caused someone’s death either through negligence or as the result of intentional action. These types of claims allow the family or the estate of a deceased person to file a lawsuit against the party who is legally liable for the death.
Each state is going to have different laws regarding wrongful death. Typically though, these kinds of lawsuits are filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate, often on the behalf of the surviving family members.
What is Considered a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim arises after situations where the victim who passed would have otherwise had a valid personal injury claim. Seeing as a wrongful death is a personal injury claim, or rather one of the many, it is treated the same with the exception that the victim has died. There are a variety of situations in which this can happen and those include:
- When the victim is intentionally killed. When someone is intentionally killed often the person who committed the crime is sued in both civil court for the wrongful death and in the criminal case. For example, O.J. Simpson was sued in civil court for the wrongful deaths and the state itself for the murders.
- When the victim dies from medical malpractice. When a doctor fails to diagnose a condition or if the doctor is careless in the level of care, and the patient dies as a result, then a wrongful death most likely occurred. For example, this could be not treating an illness that was treatable at the start and neglecting care for the victim before it is too far progressed.
- Car accident fatalities. If the person who died did so as a result of the other driver’s negligence then a claim can be made.
What Must Be Proven?
In order to hold the defendant liable for the charge of wrongful death, the plaintiffs have to meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet had they lived. In the case of negligence, this means that the defendant would have owed the victim a duty of care and that the defendant breached this duty. It has to be proven that the breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of the death and that the death caused damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.
It is a fully complicated process that can be hard to prove, and that is why a lawyer is so helpful. This is why finding a personal injury lawyer, like those at David & Philpot, P.L. is so important as these cases can be difficult. You shouldn’t have to go through this process alone, and that is why a lawyer is there to help you through a truly tough time in your life.