Wrongful death is a type of civil tort in which one party alleges that another party’s negligent or wrongful action resulted in the death of a loved one. A party can be found liable for wrongful death either because they took an action that caused or contributed to another’s death, or because they failed to take action and someone died as a result. For a wrongful death action to be successful, the plaintiff must prove it more likely than not that the decedent would not have died but for the defendant’s negligent or wrongful behavior.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The courts restrict who may file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a decedent. The specific rules vary from state to state, but in general, the following parties can pursue a wrongful death claim:
- The decedent’s spouse
- Immediate family members of the decedent (e.g., parents, children, siblings)
- The executor of the decedent’s estate
What Damages May the Plaintiff Recover in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death plaintiffs can recover a host of damages. Awarded damages often cover the costs associated with the decedent’s medical care before passing away, the decedent’s end-of-life costs, the financial losses suffered by the decedent’s family members, and non-economic losses associated with losing a loved one.
Costs of Medical Care
The plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit could receive compensation to pay for medical costs incurred between the time of injury and the decedent’s death, including hospital bills, surgery costs, medications, and emergency transportation.
Wrongful death awards often include compensation to cover costs associated with a proper funeral and burial for the decedent.
The decedent’s loved ones and next of kin might receive compensation covering loss of the decedent’s wages and future earnings.
Non-economic losses in a wrongful death lawsuit include any damages suffered by the plaintiff that cannot be quantified in dollar terms. The most common examples are loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and loss of parental guidance.
How to Prove a Wrongful Death Claim
Proving a wrongful death claim requires the plaintiff and their attorney to establish three conditions as true:
- The defendant was negligent either by committing a wrongful action or by failing to act when they had a duty to do so.
- The decedent lost his or her life as a result of the defendant’s actions.
- The decedent would not have died but for the wrongful actions of the defendant.
The preponderance of the evidence standard applies to wrongful death cases. This means the plaintiff must show that it is at least 50.1% likely that the defendant’s actions caused the decedent’s loss of life.
For Help with a Wrongful Death Claim, Call the Attorneys at Newsome Melton
The lawyers at Newsome Melton want to help you hold the responsible party accountable for the death of your loved one. We can help you get justice as well as the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free case evaluation, call us at 888-808-5977.