Wrongful death lawsuits are filed against a defendant who has caused someone’s death due to their negligence. These claims allow the family of the deceased person to file a claim against the party who is legally liable for the death so that they can receive compensation. A representative of the deceased person’s estate must be the one who files the lawsuit on behalf of surviving family members.
Continue reading to learn when wrongful death lawsuits are applicable.
When Can a Person Initiate a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed after situations in which the victim who would otherwise have a reasonable personal injury claim is killed due to the defendant’s negligent actions. Here are a few scenarios in which a person can file a claim:
When a person dies as a result of medical malpractice: If a doctor fails to detect a disease or if they’re careless about the level of care they provide and their patient dies as a result, the victim’s family can file for a wrongful death lawsuit.
When a person is murdered: For instance, OJ Simpson was sued in civil court for wrongful death. The civil lawsuits brought by the deceased people’s families were separate from the state’s case against him.
Car crash fatalities involving negligence: If an individual dies due to car accident injuries, their family may be able to file a claim.
These are only some examples of personal injury claims that can turn into wrongful death lawsuits. Learn more about their intricacies in today’s blog.
What Do I Need to Prove to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
To hold a person legally responsible in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs (typically the estate of the deceased victim) must meet the same burden of proof that the victim would have had to prove if they had still been alive. Let’s use negligence as an example: this means proving the defendant owed the victim a duty of care. Furthermore, they must prove the defendant breached said duty of care.
They must also demonstrate that said breach was either the direct or proximate cause of the death and that it caused the damages the plaintiff is attempting to recover.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
As we mentioned above, the deceased person’s representative of the estate can initiate the lawsuit. This person must represent the survivors who had a relationship with the victim; however, determining who those survivors vary from state to state.
In every state, the deceased person’s spouse may file a wrongful death action. In other instances, the parents of minors who were killed may also bring a claim. Moreover, children can collect damages over the death of their parents. Meanwhile, in other states, the significant other of the deceased can also file a lawsuit if marriage isn’t a requirement.
What Does Compensation Entail?
Damages in a wrongful death case, which are the categories of losses for which a survivor might be able to receive compensation, include:
- The victim’s pre-death pain and suffering, also known as a survival claim
- Funeral costs
- The medical costs the deceased victim incurred as a result of injury before their death
- Loss of the victim’s expected income
- Loss of inheritance due to the death
- Value of services the victim would have provided
- Loss of guidance, care, and nurturing to children that the victim could have provided
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of consortium,
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
When it comes to filing these claims, time is of the essence. Unless the rightful party files a lawsuit within the time allowed by law, any right to receive monetary compensation will be lost forever. The amount of time a plaintiff has to take action is known as the statute of limitations, which varies state by state. In Utah, a person has two years to file a claim.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is Here for You
Losing a family member is one of the most emotionally draining feelings you will ever experience. If you intend to receive compensation for your loss, you need to file a lawsuit as soon as possible.
At Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton, we understand you need time to recover and heal. One of our veteran personal injury attorneys can handle the wrongful death lawsuit to ensure you receive damages.
We have offices throughout Utah County and West Jordan. Schedule your free case evaluation when you’re ready.