If someone has passed away due to the fault of another person or entity then the survivors may be able to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. This seeks compensation for a survivor's loss such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses. If you are considering suing someone due to this reason, it is important that you have a full understanding of what the wrongful death claim is, who can sue, who can be sued, and what damages can be recovered.
The right to file a lawsuit for wrongful death is a pretty new concept. Originally in "common law" , the laws brought to the United States by England, this lawsuit was not allowed. It was later on that state and federal courts created this right. Every state in the country now has law in relation to wrongful death.
These fatal accidents can occur due to a simple car accident, medical malpractice, product liability, or from a variety of other reasons. Those who are liable are individuals, companies, or government agencies due to negligence.
A wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who suffer damage from the death of this other individual. This representative is usually the executor of the decedent's estate. Those who have someone represent them are immediate family members, life partners, financial dependents, putative spouses, distant family members, all the persons who suffered financially, and the parents of a deceased fetus.
This will vary from state to state depending on that state's laws on wrongful death claim.
To better get an understanding of who can be sued in a case like this, Nolo has provides an example. If a car accident involved faulty roadwork and a drunk driver, the wrongful death action may include defendants such as the driver or employer in the accident, the designer of the roadwork, a government agent who did not provide warning signs, the manufacturer, distributor, or installer or faulty or dangerous equipment, the person who solved and served the alcohol, or the owner of the place where the alcohol was sold.
There are some situations in which the people or agencies involved may be immune from getting sued. The individuals who may be immune vary depending on what state you live in. In certain situations some government agencies or employees may be immune.
There are 3 different types of damages that may be available to the survivors in the lawsuit. These are economic, non-economic, and punitive.
Economic damages include the value of the financial contributions the victim would have made to the survivors if he or she did not die. This would be medical or funeral expenses, loss of the victim's expected earnings, loss of benefits, loss of inheritance, and the value of goods and services that this victim would have provided.
Non-economic damages includes damages to the survivor's mental health due, loss of the care, protection, advice, and guidance of the deceased, and loss of love and companionship.
Punitive damages are rewarded as a way to punish the defendant for their negligent behavior.
It's always key to remember that a case like this has a time limit. You really can't wait a long time if you want to have a lawsuit.
If you are in need of a legal team's advice, Palacios Law Group is always here to help.