WHAT IS A WRONGFUL DEATH CASE?
You may have heard of the legal term wrongful death. What does it mean?
Wrongful death may occur when someone causes another person’s death. But not every such instance constitutes wrongful death.
In order for there to be a wrongful death, the perpetrator must have acted carelessly or intentionally. It’s not enough that an inadvertent action caused a death.
THREE TYPES OF WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
There are three types of wrongful death cases. The first type seeks compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering between the incident and death. This is known as a survival action.
The second type is when a surviving spouse seeks compensation for the loss of the deceased’s companionship and services between the incident and death.
The third type of wrongful death case is where close relatives seek compensation for economic losses that they incur because of the death of their loved one. Under the law, these losses are not limited to the money the deceased would have earned and contributed to the survivors. Rather, the losses also include the value of the services, assistance, care, guidance, and companionship the survivors would have received from the deceased.
These three types of cases are civil cases. Such cases allow relatives of the victim to obtain monetary compensation. In egregious cases, there may also be a criminal case brought against the perpetrator by the government. A criminal case punishes the offender through fines, probation and/or incarceration.
Victim’s relatives can assert claims against not only private persons and companies who cause a wrongful death. They may also be able to sue the government and any government workers responsible, too.
WHO CAN SUE FOR WRONGFUL DEATH?
Obviously, the victim of a wrongful death case cannot make a claim himself. Rather, the case is generally prosecuted by a wrongful death attorney who represents the administrator or executor of the deceased’s estate.
Compensation in the first type of case goes to whoever inherits the deceased’s property.
In the second type of case, the surviving spouse receives compensation if she prevails.
Compensation in the third type of case goes to those who would be entitled by law to the decedent’s property if he had died without leaving a will. The dependents of the deceased receive priority. The judge must divide the compensation in a fair way.
If one of the claimants is a minor, the judge will appoint a guardian to represent the child’s interests.
When there are a surviving spouse and surviving dependents, each receives equal proportions of any recovery.
IF YOUR LOVED ONE IS EVER A WRONGFUL DEATH VICTIM
There are deadlines to take legal action. If you miss a deadline, you will never be able to recover compensation. Therefore, if someone’s willful conduct or carelessness ever kills your loved one, contact an experienced wrongful death lawyer immediately.