A wrongful death claim is a civil action brought by the survivors or by the estate of the deceased. Each state has its own specific set of rules when it comes to wrongful death claims. Overwhelming grief, anger and frustration are natural reactions when you lose a loved one due to another person’s carelessness or actions. When carelessness or negligence causes a fatality, the resulting death is considered wrongful. You can file a wrongful death claim against a corporation, company or an individual. A dependent or spouse of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim. If the deceased was you and had no spouse or children, parents and other people may also be able to file a wrongful death claim. It’s best to contact a Birmingham wrongful death lawyer to determine if you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Case evaluations are free and no fees are charged unless the attorney prevails in the case.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Medical malpractice, car accidents, truck accident, work accidents, pedestrian accidents and construction accidents are common causes of wrongful death claims. In the case of vehicular accidents, the driver of the other vehicle may have been under the influence, speeding or disobeyed traffic rules. Unsafe equipment or unsafe area may be the cause of a wrongful death in a work or construction accident. A medical malpractice wrongful death claim entails a health provider not performing according to accepted medical standards. In each of these situations, there are different damages that you can claim.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim
It’s important to understand the different categories of compensation known as damages that are available in a wrongful death claim. When a loved one dies, it takes both an emotional and financial toll on the family members. The law provides a means to each financial burden through available damages.
The damages in a wrongful death claim fall into two broad categories that are defined by two time periods. The first category allows for damages experienced by the deceased from the time of the reckless act that caused the deceased’s death. For example, in the case of a vehicular accident, this period covers from the time of the incident until the deceased’s death. This time period can extend for hours and weeks after the incident. The damages include the deceased one’s physical pain and suffering, mental suffering, lost wages and funeral expenses, including burial.
The second category of damages entails the losses of the next of kin to the deceased. It is intended to compensate family survivors for their monetary losses. The law intends to replace the money that the deceased would have made if it were not for their untimely death. It includes lost wages and anticipated retirement funds. Some states in the US allow for “loss of consortium.” Loss of consortium entails the loss of companionship and love due to a loved one’s death. Loss of consortium damages is prevalent when a parent dies and leaves behind children who suffer emotionally.
The court can also award punitive damages in a wrongful death claim. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct in order to deter the same actions from happening again. These damages are often awarded when it is deemed that compensatory damages are not enough. They are also awarded when it is difficult to determine if there has been a violation of the law.
In sum, damages are typically awarded to spouses, children and parents. The court will consider the relationships with the deceased. Spouses generally have a claim for lost companionship with the deceased. Children have a claim for lost love, guidance and support. Parents of a minor child who died as a result of negligence or recklessness can recover damages for the lost relationship with the child and the emotional trauma that they experience.
In a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the death of the deceased was caused by the negligent actions or careless actions by the defendant. Breach of duty, causation and damages must be proved. For example, a motorist has the duty to obey traffic laws and drive safely. If this duty was breached, there is negligence. Causation entails proving how the negligence of the defendant caused the death. Quantifiable damages must also be shown, such as loss of income, funeral expenses, medical expenses and loss of inheritance.
Proving these elements in a wrongful death claim requires convincing and strong evidence. Some evidence may even require the testimony of an expert witness. An experienced attorney in wrongful death claims can help guide you through the whole process. An experienced attorney will help you build your cause based on the evidence and facts. In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, it is critical to use an attorney. An attorney knows the laws and the court process and will guide you on how to provide evidence and do things in a timely fashion. You have a much better chance of prevailing in a wrongful death claim with the help of an experienced attorney.