A wrongful death lawsuit is filed when a death is caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct. In some cases, wrongful death lawsuits are brought against someone for intentional conduct. Since the person who was harmed is no longer living, the right to file a lawsuit falls to their surviving relatives. Each state has a law that says exactly who has the right to sue for wrongful death. It may be only a spouse or children, or it may extend to other relatives.
The law sets time limits for suing for wrongful death. These deadlines are called statutes of limitation, and they are strict. If you wait too long, you don’t usually get a second chance. There are, however, certain factors that can lengthen or shorten the time you have to sue. Sometimes, the clock starts ticking on the date of death; other times it might not start ticking until you realize the death was caused by someone else.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against an individual, a corporation or the government. Be aware that when suing the government there is probably a very short time limit for giving notice of a lawsuit.
Some examples of wrongful death cases include:
- Medical malpractice.
- Car, truck, motorcycle, or other vehicle accidents.
- Work place injuries.
- Product liability.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you are asking the court for damages. Damages are the amount in which you were harmed. Damages can include medical bills, funeral expenses and loss of future financial support from the deceased. Damages also can be sought for emotional harm such as loss of companionship. In some cases, punitive damages may be available. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer for their actions, usually when those actions were particularly egregious.
Wrongful death attorneys only charge a fee you win at trial, or if you reach a settlement. You shouldn’t have to pay anything up front. This type of fee is called a contingency fee. If you lose, you pay nothing. Many people are curious about how much their case is worth. It’s a tricky question and one that you usually won’t get an answer to right away. The factors that go into the equation are endless and can change as facts are discovered along the way. Sometimes, it’s simply up to the jury.
Most lawsuits, including wrongful death lawsuits, settle before trial. However, you should make sure your attorney has the experience, resources and willingness to take your case to trial if necessary. Initial consultations are always free. If you believe you might have a wrongful death case, we can help by recommending an attorney. Feel free to call us at 1 (800) 807-9530, or simply fill out our contact form. All communication is confidential.