A death in the family is always a tragedy. It can be so much worse if you know that the death was avoidable and that someone else was to blame. There is nothing that can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one. In the case of wrongful death, however, taking legal action may help provide closure and address some of the material consequences of your bereavement.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a special kind of legal action. It is brought when somebody dies, and the death is the result of someone else’s negligence or because of an intentional act. Wrongful death settlements can help compensate for things like loss of income, the loss of the deceased person’s companionship, and costs relating to medical treatment and funeral expenses.
When is a wrongful death lawsuit applicable?
Although any death is a blow to the bereaved, not all deaths can be deemed “wrongful.” For a wrongful death claim to have merit, the victim would have to have been killed as a result of a wrongful action by the defendant. Here are some examples of situations where a wrongful death lawsuit might be brought:
If a person dies as a result of murder or manslaughter, a wrongful death suit may be brought against the culprit. The wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action and independent of any criminal cases brought against the person responsible. For example, a person might be found not guilty of murder or manslaughter yet still be found liable for a wrongful death claim.
Vehicle accident fatalities involving negligence or dangerous driving
A person who causes death due to negligent or dangerous driving may be liable for a wrongful death claim if it can be proven that they caused the accident through their negligence.
An employer may be the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit if an employee (or someone visiting the workplace) is killed due to negligence. For example, if dangerous machinery isn’t properly maintained and guarded, and someone dies as a result, the courts may deem this a wrongful death.
Death as a result of medical malpractice, may be grounds for a wrongful death claim. If a doctor misdiagnoses a condition due to negligence or fails to administer a reasonable level of appropriate care, a death resulting from this may be deemed wrongful.
How can you prove a wrongful death case?
For a wrongful death lawsuit to be successful, the plaintiffs (usually the victim’s surviving family or their estate) need to meet a particular burden of proof. The plaintiffs must show that the defendant had a duty of care and that death resulted from a breach of this duty.
Wrongful death damages
The categories of losses that a survivor might be compensated for include:
- Loss of the victim’s expected income
- Loss of the services that the victim would have provided if they’d survived
- Any inheritance lost because of the death
- Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before death, also known as the survival claim
- Medical bills incurred before death as a result of the injury
- Loss of the deceased’s love and companionship
- Loss of the deceased’s care, guidance, and nurturing
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial costs
How to proceed
Wrongful death lawsuits are very complicated and can be difficult to resolve. It’s important to seek advice from an experienced wrongful death attorney to ensure that you receive the damages you’re entitled. If you think you have a claim for wrongful death, contact Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group for expert legal advice in the Vero Beach area.