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What is wrongful death?

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Wrongful death occurs when negligent, reckless, or deliberate behavior results in death. A wrongful death claim can stem from almost any kind of personal injury, with the exception of work injuries that are typically handled through workers’ compensation.

Wrongful death lawsuits most commonly arise from automobile accidents, medical malpractice, and dangerous or defective products. While many fatalities are the result of accidents they also apply to the intentional killing of a victim.

A wrongful death claim cannot bring back loved ones, but it can allow family members to receive the rightful compensation to ease any financial burden caused by the untimely loss.

A wrongful death case can be brought on by the parents of a minor child, minor children who lost their parents or a surviving spouse. In certain instances other family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim, it is best to seek legal counsel if you are unsure of whether you qualify. A civil claim must be filed on behalf of the individual who has died, due to the negligence or the misconduct of another person.

In a wrongful death case, the plaintiffs must meet the burden of proof that the victim would have had to meet, to hold a defendant liable. A plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the victim a duty of care that was breached and ultimately resulted in death, and that the death caused the damages that the plaintiff is trying to recover.
Qualifying members of the victim are entitled to damages that fall within the following categories:

  • Economic- the value of the financial contributions the victim would have made to the survivor, this includes earnings, benefit plans, inheritance, etc.
  • Non-economic- This is not a tangible damage and includes pain and suffering.
  • Punitive- This damage seeks to punish the defendant for engaging in misconduct. This is done in an effort to deter the same behavior from occurring in the future.

Wrongful death lawsuits are typically complicated, involving complex areas of the law, it is often best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. When preparing to meet with an attorney it is wise to bring as much information as available. This includes: the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, the names of any witnesses and a list of all the evidence connected with the scene of the wrongful death.

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