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What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

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What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

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Losing a family member under any circumstance is deeply painful and can be extremely traumatic—especially when a family member dies under circumstances constituting wrongful death. When someone dies due to another person or organization’s negligence or intentional malicious actions, the victim’s estate/family members are eligible to file a wrongful death claim. A successful wrongful death claim can help survivors recoup financial damages including the deceased’s funeral costs, medical bills, loss of income, and more.

Wrongful death claims arise when a victim would have had a valid personal injury claim if they have survived.

Valid personal injury and wrongful death claims occur when the family member seeking justice is able to prove that the responsible party owed the victim a certain level of responsibility to provide a safe environment, and either through negligence or intention failed to meet that responsibility. In a wrongful death claim, the goal of the lawsuit is to recoup damages for the surviving family members of the victim or the victim’s estate.

Damages in a wrongful death claim are similar to damages the victim could have sued for if they were alive.

Some of these damages may include the victim’s pain and suffering before death, medical bills, funeral costs, loss of expected income or inheritance for the family of the victim, loss of companionship, and loss of consortium. Basically, any type of damage that occurred as a result of the victim’s injuries and death could potentially be recovered in a successful wrongful death lawsuit.

Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim, even if they are related to the deceased.

The parties who can bring a wrongful death claim forward vary from state to state, but they usually include direct family members as well as the estate of the deceased victim, often on behalf of the surviving family members. As a general rule, the more distant the familial relationship with the victim, the less likely a judge is to consider that person eligible to file a claim. There is also some debate as to whether even direct family can bring a wrongful death claim forward if both the victim and the family were legally adults at the time of the death.

There are a variety of common causes in wrongful death cases.

Common causes of wrongful death include:

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2017 the number of deaths as a result of unintentional injuries was 169,936; the number of deaths as a result of unintentional falls was 36,338; the number of deaths as a result of motor vehicle traffic deaths was 40,231; the number of deaths as a result of unintentional poisonings was 64,795; and the number of deaths as a result of homicides was 19,510. When a wrongful death occurs, it’s important to understand what protections are in place for themselves and their families in these scenarios.

If you suspect your loved one died as a result of negligence/intention of another party, seek legal counsel.

If a loved one has died as a result of unjust circumstances and you think you may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim, seek legal counsel to find out what your options may be to take care of yourself and your family.

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