If a member of your family has died due to the reckless, intentional, or negligent actions of others, you may have strong grounds upon which to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A wrongful death claim is a civil case, which means that if your claim is successful, you will receive a financial award.
It is important to know that civil cases and criminal cases are very different. A successful wrongful death claim will not result in the incarceration of the defendant, although sometimes they may also face separate criminal charges. A wrongful death lawsuit is similar to a personal injury claim—except that the deceased party cannot serve as the plaintiff. You may have grounds upon which to file a civil lawsuit regardless of whether the party responsible for your loved one’s death is facing (or has already faced) criminal charges – even if they are not held accountable in criminal court. As an experienced wrongful death lawyer can confirm, it is often much easier to meet the evidentiary standards and burden of proof in a civil case than it is in a criminal case.
When Might a Wrongful Death Claim Apply?
Wrongful death claims can apply to a variety of situations in which a person who might otherwise have filed a personal injury claim has died due to someone’s intentional, reckless, or negligent actions.
For example, wrongful death may apply to medical malpractice injuries if the patient dies as a result of those injuries. If a doctor’s actions did not meet the standard of care for medical treatment, or if they failed to diagnose or misdiagnosed a condition, the plaintiff may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the doctor.
Similarly, some vehicle accidents may qualify as wrongful death claims. Drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and safety regulations while on the highway. A work injury that leads to death may qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit, but it also be handled through workers’ compensation, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the fatal injuries sustained by the worker.
What Do You Need To Prove In a Wrongful Death Claim?
Generally, the plaintiff needs to be able to prove that the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of another party significantly contributed to the cause of their loved one’s fatal injuries. In addition, the plaintiff will also need to be able to prove that the defendant breached a duty that they owed to the victim. For instance, medical providers have a duty to provide patients with standard care, while motor vehicle operators have a duty to follow traffic laws.
The plaintiff will also need to prove that there was a direct link between the defendant’s actions or inactions and the victim’s death. Finally, the death must have resulted in quantifiable losses that can be compensated if the claim is successful. These losses may include medical expenses, funeral costs, loss of income, and other damages including pain and suffering.
If you think that you may have the basis of a wrongful death case, you will likely need the help of a wrongful death attorney. During your consultation, the attorney will help to evaluate your case and advise you in regards to your rights and options under the law.