In the United States, a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought on behalf of a person who died as the result of the wrongful action or negligence of another person or of a company. Each state in the U.S. has its own law regarding wrongful death, and these laws vary in their details.
Filing a wrongful death suit is not precluded by the bringing of criminal charges against the person or entity responsible for the action or negligence which caused the death. Both actions may be brought against the guilty party.
The standard for proof in the wrongful death action, which is a civil lawsuit, is lower than that required for proving a criminal action. Typically, the civil suits are filed following the conclusion of the criminal trial.
Each state has its own set of laws for the requirements of a wrongful death lawsuit. Including different statutes of limitations. However, the states typically will follow the general requirements of:
There are many different reasons why a person might file a wrongful death lawsuit. Essentially, if the above elements can be fulfilled then a person can file a claim. But these are some of the most common reasons a person filed a wrongful death claim:
Many people can bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of the decedent (the person who has died). People who sue for wrongful death must have had a close personal relationship with the decedent. Most wrongful death suits are brought by the following people:
In some states, only the personal representative of the deceased will be able to bring a wrongful death action in court. Any money that is then recovered will be placed into a special account or trust to be distributed to the people named above.
The damages you will receive if you are successful in a wrongful death suit will vary quite a bit from case to case and may include:
If your family member or loved one died because of person's or a company’s intentionally wrongful or negligent behavior, you should consult a local personal injury lawyer. They can help you figure out if your loved one's wrongful death qualifies under your state law, and let you know what steps you should take to recover from their loss.
Last Modified: 07-24-2018 08:12 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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