Sometimes, we lose someone we love due to someone else’s carelessness or reckless behavior. In those situations, it’s important to know a few things about filling a wrongful death lawsuit. There are a lot of questions about this and the process might not be simple. So we decided to share with you the 10 most common questions about wrongful death lawsuits to help you better understand the process.
What’s exactly a wrongful death claim?
Personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death claims are very closely related. They both allow you to seek compensations when someone is injured due to someone else’s negligence.
With a personal injury lawsuit, the law allows the injured victim to file a claim and seek compensation from the responsible party. This compensation is to cover the injured person’s losses.
But with a wrongful death claim, the injured person is not alive anymore so he/she cannot file a claim. So in this instance, another person steps into the place of the injured person and files a claim in his/her name to seek compensation.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
This question depends on a specific state and its legal system. In general, most states allow the personal representative to file a wrongful death claim and this mostly refers to a close family member. In Arizona, wrongful death claims can be filed by:
- The spouse of the deceased person
- Children of the deceased person
- Parent or legal guardian of the deceased person
- Personal representative of the deceased person’s estate
Wrongful death claim – Do I have a case?
Determining if someone has a wrongful death case or not isn’t so easy to determine. Each case has a unique set of circumstances and facts. So in order to determine if you have a case, you will definitely need to speak to a lawyer. A personal injury or wrongful death lawyer should be able to help you.
How to file a wrongful death claim?
As before, this also depends on the state you wish to file a lawsuit. Usually, you first need to determine if you’re eligible to file such lawsuit. Then you need to work closely with your wrongful death or personal injury lawyer so you could file the claim before statute of limitation expires.
How to prove wrongful death?
Each US state has its own set of laws when proving wrongful death, but in general, the plaintiff must prove:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the deceased
- The defendant breached said duty
- Breaching duty of care resulted the death of the deceased and
- Damages that resulted
How long do you have to file the claim?
The time you have to file a wrongful death claim (or any type of claim basically) is called the statute of limitations. This is not the same for all states, so you should definitely check with your personal injury lawyer. For example, in Arizona, the statute of limitation for a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of death. Same applies for New York, California, Florida, New Jersey and many other states.
How much can you sue for in a wrongful death claim?
Usually, wrongful death claims allow you to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. These compensatory damages should compensate the party for loses and the usually include
- Medical bills
- Lost wages for the time the deceased was in the hospital
- Future wages
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before death
- Burial and funeral expenses and
- Loss of companionship
Average settlement for wrongful death
Since every wrongful death case is unique, with its own unique facts, it’s really difficult to determine what’s the average settlement. But when you consult your personal injury lawyer or wrongful death lawyer, he will be able to give you a rough estimate of the settlement.
When hiring a personal injury or wrongful death attorney, you can discuss that he takes your case on a contingency fee basis. This means that he/she will only be paid if you will the lawsuit and you get compensated.
Is a lawyer really necessary?
Since wrongful death cases can be pretty complicated, we highly recommend that you hire a wrongful death lawyer. He/she will advocate for your best interest and if you have additional questions you can always ask him/her.