Wrongful Death Claim Explanation and Examples
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:
- That an individual died.
- That negligence is present in the guilty party, with an intent to cause injury or death.
- That the surviving family members have lost, or are losing, money as a result of the death.
- 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.
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