A guide to making wrongful death claims
Western nations have legal provisions in which persons can be held liable for the death of another individual, if the deceased person's death was caused by reckless, negligent or criminal actions. The term "wrongful death" is applied to civil lawsuits arising from such circumstances.
Wrongful death cases are, by their very nature, initiated by the surviving spouse or family members of the deceased. Under the law, wrongful death is a type of damage that can be awarded by a court; the actual type of negligence that caused the death varies from case to case. Thus, the circumstances that constitute wrongful death claims can include anything from medical malpractice and homicide to domestic violence and car accidents.
In some circumstances, the negligent, reckless or criminal actions in question contributed to but did not directly cause the death of the deceased. For example, if a tyrannical bully relentlessly threatened and intimidated a victim who took his or her own life or died fleeing the bully, wrongful death convictions can still find the bully directly responsible.
Wrongful Death Cases: Information and Resources
Many wrongful death cases involve both criminal and civil trials. The outcome of one does not necessarily affect the outcome of the other; O.J. Simpson's murder case provides an excellent example. While he was found not guilty of murder in his criminal trial, he was deemed responsible for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in his civil wrongful death trial.
Settlement amounts in wrongful death cases typically reflect the cost of the deceased person's medical and funeral expenses as well as emotional pain and suffering. If the deceased person had dependents, an estimate of the amount of money they would have earned in their future career will also come into play. Your legal team will have to hire expert witnesses to make an accurate assessment of the deceased's earning potential.
Beyond speaking to a lawyer, you can also collect information and resources from the various wrongful death institutes that are located in the United States. However, be wary of accepting legal advice from anyone who is not a licensed and practicing attorney.