Wrongful Death Claim Explanation and Examples

Wrongful death attorney

There are many legal issues that are not black and white, rather they exist in shades of gray. The topic of death is often one of these issues. Not homicide, suicide, or illness, but rather deaths that result from accidents or negligence. When death comes at the hands of an individual or company, but it’s not intent to kill, they are often still responsible. The surviving family members may sue for a “wrongful death” claim. Although negligence and misconduct is the larger reason somebody might sue in this situation, murder is not ruled out completely. One famous example is that of O.J. Simpson. He was acquitted of murder in the first degree because the prosecution failed to prove Simpson’s act without reasonable doubt. Still, when tried in civil court, Simpson was eventually found guilty of the wrongful death of both Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

Only the personal representative of the deceased’s estate may file such a claim. The actual procedure will vary according to each state, and may carry different distinctions as to what is ruled “wrongful death.” Such action can be made against claims for personal injury, conscious pain and suffering, and the reimbursement of expenses the deceased paid before they died. For instance, hospital bills and transportation costs. Damages are accessed in every available category. If ruled in favor of accidental death, a financial payout is due to various members of the estate, as outlined by the will.

In a wrongful death case, four elements must be present in order for a positive verdict. They are:

  1. That an individual died.
  2. That negligence is present in the guilty party, with an intent to cause injury or death.
  3. That the surviving family members have lost, or are losing, money as a result of the death.
  4. That one individual from that family is an official representative of the deceased’s estate.

One might seek a wrongful death claim under a number of scenarios. For instance, a doctor or nurse is guilty of criminal malpractice that resulted directly, or indirectly, to an individual dying. Another time a family might consider such a claim is if their loved one was killed in a car or plane accident. It’s also possible to file a claim if an individual died as a result of exposure to hazardous conditions, elements, materials, chemicals, or substances. Death under supervision is another possibility. This can include such cases as a child drowning in a friend’s or pubic pool, a child dying at school or daycare, and an elderly individual dying at a care or nursing facility. Criminal behavior is perhaps the most obvious of the cases. This can run the spectrum of anything illegal that put somebody in danger, resulting in their death.


File the Claim If:

You are the surviving family member of somebody who died under one of the above scenarios. You must fulfill the obligations, such as being the appointed representative of the deceased’s estate. The portion about financial loss as a result of the death is open to many interpretations. In a situation where the head of a household dies in such a scenario, the family may be at serious financial loss. This has become a serious portion of the annual salary is missing. Maybe nobody else in the household can work or has the skills as the deceased to hold a steady job. This is true for airline pilots. If a pilot dies in an accident that the airline had the ability to stop, there’s no way of replacing that income for the family, unless the spouse is also a pilot. And even if that’s the case, half of the salary is still missing. Financial loss also means somebody who is stuck with bills and fees because of the passing. It is possible to cover hospital bills, funeral expenses, and even the lawyer costs for such endeavors. Imagine another scenario. However sad, if a child were to die, the parents would be hardly expected to work as before. Maybe after some time, but still life would pause for a while. Time lost is the main concern here, and a wrongful death suit may reverse the tide in your favor. God forbid such a tragedy occurs.

This is true for airline pilots. If a pilot dies in an accident that the airline had the ability to stop, there’s no way of replacing that income for the family, unless the spouse is also a pilot. And even if that’s the case, half of the salary is still missing. Financial loss also means somebody who is stuck with bills and fees because of the passing. It is possible to cover hospital bills, funeral expenses, and even the lawyer costs for such endeavors. Imagine another scenario. However sad, if a child were to die, the parents would be hardly expected to work as before. Maybe after some time, but still life would pause for a while. Time lost is the main concern here, and a wrongful death suit may reverse the tide in your favor. God forbid such a tragedy occurs.


Who’s to Blame: Company or Person?

The responsible party is all reliant upon the scenario. For instance, in the airline example mentioned above, the company is responsible because they did not prevent an accident. Say, two planes colliding mid-air or on the runway. Suing the company is an option not only for the pilot’s family but for the entire crew and passenger connections as well. In the case of the famous O.J. Simpson murder trial, Simpson was the sole responsible party. There’s no company above Simpson’s head or that led the way for the murders to take place. In the case of malpractice, both the company and the individual are responsible. The hospital holds blame for keeping ineffective or unsavory employees in staff. And the employees that directly caused the death are also responsible. Cases vary in focus and spectrum, and that’s why it’s important to speak to a lawyer to know the full severity of the wrongful death case.


How a Lawyer Can Help

Wrongful death attorney speaking to couple

As in any courtroom proceedings, a lawyer is an invaluable friend. Not only because they have the ability to convey legal concepts to the prosecution, judge, and jury, but because they have years of experience in such cases. Lawyers assigned to this case will research similar cases and carry their findings over to the courtroom. Not only this, they know the legal ins and outs, and can direct the case in the most effective way. Many surviving family members don’t know if they’re eligible to file such a claim. In any case, speaking to a wrongful death attorney will help you determine possible legal actions you might take to bring some comfort back to your life after the loss of a loved one.