Quite simply, wrongful death is when someone’s death is due to the fault of another person or organization, whether the wrongful party acted maliciously with an intent to harm or negligently. While the technical definition of ‘wrongful death’ may be straightforward, the process of initiating a wrongful death lawsuit is usually anything but. Because of the complicated, emotional nature of these types of lawsuits, it’s advised to procure an attorney for legal representation.
Who Is Qualified To Initiate A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit must be the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. This person is generally an immediately family member, such as a husband or wife, child or parent. However, some states may allow additional parties to act as personal representative, including domestic/life partners, financial dependents, siblings, grandparents and anyone else who can prove that they’re suffering financially due to the loss of the decedent.
Who Can Be Sued In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Because wrongful death situations and scenarios are so varied – from vehicular accidents to medical malpractice to product liability to occupational exposure to hazardous substances – the types of people and organizations who can be sued are just as varied. At the receiving end of a lawsuit, you may find a singular individual, a company or an entire government agency – depending on who was at fault and acted with misconduct. In a criminal case of homicide, the murderer would be sued, but if a death was caused due to a faulty bridge, perhaps the bridge’s builder or the government official whose responsibility it was to check and maintain the bridge would be sued.
What Types Of Damages Are Awarded In Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Generally, wrongful death lawsuits result in large damage awards. The majority of damages are economic – or financial – meaning that they’re awarded to cover the decedent’s medical and funeral expenses connected to his or her death, as well as the loss of the decedent’s expected earnings. Non-economic damages may also be awarded, although these are more difficult to put a specific monetary value on, since they deal with less-tangible compensatory measures, such as mental anguish, emotional suffering, loss of companionship, etc.
In most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the negligence that caused the victim’s death. If you’re in the initial stages of bringing a wrongful death lawsuit and it falls within the required filing timeframe, contact Gold, Albanese & Barletti, L.L.C to talk with one of our highly experienced and sympathetic wrongful death attorneys.