In a wrongful death claim, an individual seeks compensation from another individual whose negligent or intentional actions caused the loss of the claimant’s loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits involve civil cases as opposed to criminal trials. The American Bar Association notes that negligence does not have to be intentional to warrant liability.
Unlike personal injury cases in which the victim can file suit on their own behalf for the injuries they suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence, victims in wrongful death cases cannot represent themselves in court. States determine who can file a wrongful death claim for the loss of their loved one, but typically the responsibility falls on a family member or the executor of the decedent’s estate. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a wrongful death case and if your state law allows you to file a claim.
Major Differences Between Civil Court and Criminal Court
When an individual takes the at-fault party in a civil case, such as a wrongful death claim, to court, they have the goal of achieving compensation for their losses. When a district attorney takes an individual to criminal court, such as for a homicide or robbery case, they have the goal of achieving a guilty verdict for the defendant, which may result in incarceration, probation, or fines.
Civil cases do not involve crimes or criminal charges, although the circumstances that lead to a wrongful death may involve criminal activity. For this reason, an individual who commits a crime and causes the death of another person as the result of a negligent or intentional act may face both a criminal trial for the laws they broke and a civil trial for financial damages resulting from the death they caused. The outcomes of these cases do not affect one another, and the proceedings may occur at the same time.
Examples of Wrongful Death Claims
The same circumstances that lead to personal injury cases can also lead to wrongful death claims. In order to hold an individual accountable for a wrongful death claim, you or your attorney must prove that they had a duty to exercise reasonable caution, they breached that duty by omission or through a willful act, their breach of duty caused the injuries that led to your loved one’s death, and your loved one’s death resulted in significant financial loss.
Types of cases that may involve wrongful death include:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Product defects
- Inadequate security
- Workplace injuries
- Nursing home abuse
Another example of wrongful death, albeit rare, is the death of a person who died while incarcerated. Whether it was a case of a wrongful incarceration or not, the surviving family members or the estate of a prisoner who died in jail can meet the criteria for a wrongful death claim or lawsuit. The estate’s representative mandated by the probate court can work with wrongful death attorney in preparing a case. Depending on your situation, our wrongful death lawyers can help you determine if you have a wrongful death case.
Financial Awards in Wrongful Death Claims
Claimants can seek one or more types of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit depending on the extent of their loss, the personal assets of the decedent, and available insurance policies and coverage. These types of financial recovery may include economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages, which the court can place a quantifiable value on, as well as non-economic damages, which result from the trauma experienced by the decedent and/or the claimant.
The court calls financial recovery awarded to the plaintiff for their losses or injuries compensatory damage, as they serve to compensate them for the losses they suffered due to their loved one’s death. Compensatory damages may include both economic and non-economic damages depending on what the plaintiff qualifies for and pursues.
An attorney can help you evaluate your damages and seek fair compensation for your wrongful death claim. A lawyer cannot guarantee a certain amount of financial recovery, but they can help you determine if you may qualify for punitive damages.
A Lawyer Can Help You Fight for Your Case
A wrongful death claim can help loved ones of those who lost their life at no fault of their own seek the damages they deserve for their losses. Having a lawyer may relieve grieving family members of added stress during such a harrowing time.
If you have a wrongful death case, our lawyers can investigate the circumstances, assess your damages, and pursue compensation on your behalf. We work on a contingency fee basis, so you do not owe us any fees unless we achieve financial awards for you. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 593-3443 to discuss your case with our legal team.