In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, a family may be consumed by grief and uninterested in filing a lawsuit. However, it is important that they consider talking to a
wrongful death attorney right away. A death can bring on considerable financial hardship along with grief. Taking legal action can provide them with the means to overcome the hardships and meet their needs in the absence of the deceased relative.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death occurs when someone is killed as a result of another person’s negligence. Negligence can be defined as the failure to act with the level of care that would be expected from a reasonable person. It can apply to different kinds of fatal accidents including car crashes and medical malpractice.
Who is Able to Sue for Wrongful Death?
All states allow the immediate family members of the deceased person to seek damages for wrongful death. It may also be possible for domestic partners, distant family members to see damages.
About Wrongful Death Damages
Claimants in wrongful death lawsuits can seek three types of damages: economic, non-economic and punitive. Survivors may also be able to get compensation for their attorney’s fees as well as for the interest their damages accrued from the time of they were awarded to the time they were collected.
Economic damages are meant to compensate the claimants for:
- Medical and death-related expenses
- Loss of financial support from the victim
- Loss of benefits that the victim would have provided such as medical insurance coverage
Non-economic damages compensate for less tangible consequences of the defendant’s negligence such as:
- Pain and suffering or mental anguish on the part of the victim’s survivors
- Loss of companionship or care
- Loss of consortium (sexual intercourse) which may arise with the death of a spouse.
When punitive damages are awarded, they are intended as punishment for the gross negligence of the defendant in the suit. While it may not always be possible to get punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits, treble damages (triple the amount of the actual damages) may be recovered in some cases.
Choosing a Wrongful Death Attorney
Because wrongful death cases are often complex, it is wise for the victim’s survivors to hire a wrongful death attorney. Before retaining an attorney, they should arrange for an initial consultation. Factors like the attorney’s experience and success rate should be considered when making the decision. They should choose a law firm with the resources to take on complex and demanding lawsuits. The survivors should also find out about an attorney’s record for going to trial and for settling cases out of court before hiring them. It is important that they have experience with their prospective client’s specific type of wrongful death suit.