Wrongful Death Lawsuits
By Meaghan Olson
Many people in the United States learned plenty about wrongful death civil lawsuits more than a decade ago when a wrongful death case was pursued - and won - against O.J. Simpson for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. This case was filed after he was found not guilty of the murders at the heavily publicized criminal trial.
Filing a Wrongful Death Suit
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed only by the personal representative of the deceased person's estate. This type of lawsuit is filed on behalf of surviving immediate family members of the deceased person when a person's death is due to the negligence or misconduct of another person, company or entity.
If you fall in this category, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. For more information about filing a lawsuit, arrange a free consultation with a local personal injury attorney today. Simply fill out the quick case review form below to get started now.
Each state has its own wrongful death statute or statutes that spell out the procedures for filing this type of lawsuit. Along with the wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative of the deceased person's estate may file a lawsuit to pursue damages for pain and suffering or expenses incurred prior to the death.
Any damages awarded as a result of the personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits belong to the estate and can be distributed to the family members in accordance with the deceased person's will.
Requirements for Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The case must meet several requirements in order for a wrongful death lawsuit to be successfully filed.
First, of course, the death of a human being must have occurred. This death must have been caused by the negligence, or intent to cause harm, of another person, company or entity.
There must also be surviving family members who have suffered monetary losses as a result of the death and a personal representative must be appointed for the deceased person's estate.
Circumstances Leading to a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Many circumstances may lead to a wrongful death lawsuit. Some common reasons that wrongful death lawsuits are brought include medical malpractice resulting in death, automobile or public transportation accidents, criminal behavior or hazardous exposure to substances or conditions.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
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- Financial Losses: Financial injuries are called pecuniary losses and are the main measure of damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. The courts consider the loss of support, services, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses as financial losses in wrongful death lawsuits. Most states' laws require that the damages awarded in a wrongful death case to be fair and just compensation for the financial losses suffered as a result of the death and include interest from the date of the death.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases involving serious or malicious wrongdoing that resulted in the death, the person, company or entity can be punished with a punitive award to the estate. However, in most states, the law does not allow the plaintiff to recover punitive damages in wrongful death cases. If the state law does not spell out whether punitive damages are allowable, courts have allowed punitive damages to be awarded.
Personal Injury Survival Actions
In addition to a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of the deceased person may also file a personal injury lawsuit in order to recover damages for injuries the deceased person suffered. These types of cases are called survival actions because the personal injury action survives the person who suffered the personal injury.
In survival actions to collect damages for the deceased person's conscious pain and suffering, the jury may ask about the degree of consciousness, the severity and duration of the pain suffered and the apprehension of impending death. By considering these things, the jury can make a determination as to what amount of damages is appropriate.
Speak with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Injury lawyers can help. If you feel a loved one died wrongfully as a result of someone else's negligence, talk to an injury lawyer about your options. Call 877-288-7564 or fill out our free case evaluation form to connect with a local injury lawyer within minutes who can provide you with a free personal injury case evaluation.