How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works

How a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Works


Your loved one is gone. Nothing can bring them back. As you deal with the pain and grief of your loss, you should also consider the manner in which they died. If their death could have been prevented, if it owed to the malice, negligence, or recklessness of another person, you do have legal options. You can make a wrongful death claim against the person you believe to be responsible for the death of your loved one. As a representative of the deceased’s estate, you can bring a wrongful death suit against the party that is legally liable for their death.

Why You Need a Wrongful Death Lawyer

Your first move should be to contact a wrongful death attorney. Before you file any paper work, you want to ensure you have a solid case against the respondent. It is okay for you to be angry, hurt, despondent, and frightened. It is possible to feel a range of emotions and to still think clearly and rationally about the soundness of your claim. A wrongful death lawyer can help you do that. 

During the first meeting with such a lawyer they will ask you a series of tough questions about the circumstances that led to the death of your loved ones. These inquiries are not meant to put you or the departed person on trial or to question the veracity of your claims; they are meant to ascertain the facts of this tragedy and to help the person you have chosen as counsel formulate an approach and strategy toward the case. If at the end of that first meeting the lawyer decides there is enough evidence to successfully pursue a wrongful death claim, they will begin building a case against the responsible party.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?

This question should be answered straightaway. In all states, the surviving spouse or adult children can file a wrongful death suit. Parents of minors who were murdered or whose death took place under suspicious circumstances can also file a wrongful death suit. State law varies outside of these surviving relative categories. In general, the more distant your relation from the deceased the less likely your chances of being able to file a suit. The wrongful death attorney you hired will be able to tell you definitively if you can make a claim.

When Can You File a Wrongful Death Suit?

Any death that is the result of intentional harm or the negligence of another provides grounds for filing suit. Here are some specific instances:

1. Medical Malpractice

If your loved one went in for a routine surgery and did not make it through, you have reason to be suspicious. A subsequent investigation into what went wrong may reveal gross incompetence on the part of the surgeon involved. If this is the case, you do have a right to sue; and you have a good chance of winning. 

A missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis is also grounds for a lawsuit. If the physician did not spot a serious condition or they failed to diagnose it correctly and it led to the death of your loved one, then you can sue them. 

2. Car Accident Fatalities

You can sue the person whose reckless and dangerous driving led to a car accident that killed your loved one. In some instances, it may be possible for you to sue the insurance company of the person who caused the accident if the individual themselves are unable to pay. Speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—these can all lead to serious accidents; if your loved one was in a car accident that killed them, you should seek justice through a wrongful death suit.

3. Murder or Manslaughter

It is possible for you to sue the person who murdered your loved one. If the person was tried in a criminal court and acquitted, you can still take them to civil court. The standard of proof is lower in the latter court. Guilt can be established from a preponderance of evidence rather than the much higher bar of beyond a reasonable doubt. You can also use the evidence gathered by the prosecutor’s office in your case, which saves you from having to launch another investigation. Even if the person is found guilty in criminal court, you can still sue their estate for money. 

These principles apply also to manslaughter. If the person who killed your loved one did so accidently, you can still sue them for civil penalties. 

Why You Should Sue

Bringing a wrongful death suit is not about revenge; it is about justice. If your loved one was the sole breadwinner in the family, their departure may put you and your family under severe strain. You may have to pay off their medical bills. You will still need to pay the monthly bills for food, utilities, transportation, and mortgage or rent. There will be expenses for the funeral. And then there is the projected loss of income. Assuming you are able to work or have the qualifications to find a job that makes up for your loved one’s income, it will take you some time to secure such a position. In the meantime, your family will be under tremendous strain to make ends meet.

These are the material factors to consider. You should also think about the need to seek justice. A human life—one that was precious, special, and irreplaceable—has been taken because of someone else’s recklessness, incompetence, or violent and malicious disposition. It isn’t right. The person who caused the death of the person you loved most in the world should be held accountable. The money they are made to pay will help you get through the difficult days ahead. It will also stand as a symbol of the pain and emotional turmoil you have been made to suffer. The lawyer you hire will ensure that you get a settlement offer or a jury decision that acknowledges the tremendous loss that you and your family have endured.

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