Losing a loved one is painful, but it's even more distressing when the cause of death is preventable. For instance, death after a car accident could have been prevented if the at-fault driver had been careful.
While no money can ever make up for the loss of a family member, a wrongful death suit may ease the financial burden on the victim's family. Learn the answers to your questions about wrongful death claims.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most cases, the victim's spouse, offspring, or parents can file a wrongful death claim. If you want to claim economic damages (discussed below), you must prove that you were financially dependent on the deceased.
What Damages Are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
Two types of damages are recoverable in a wrongful death claim.
Economic damages are intended to compensate the victim's family for financial losses. These damages may include things like:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Loss of future earnings
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
For example, if the victim was the primary breadwinner in the family, their death may have left the family struggling to make ends meet. In this case, the victim's spouse or children may be able to recover damages for their lost wages and benefits.
In the same way, if the deceased were in a hospital before their demise, the hospital stay may have accumulated a substantial amount of medical bills. But, again, the victim's family may be able to recover these expenses through a wrongful death claim.
Non-economic damages are intended to compensate the victim's family for their intangible losses. These damages may include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
For example, the gap left by the victim's death may have caused their loved ones to suffer emotional distress. In this case, the bereaved may recover damages for their pain and suffering.
The loss of love and companionship is another common type of non-economic damage. This loss may be especially true for parents who have lost a child or children who have lost a parent.
How Can You Prove Damages in a Wrongful Death Claim?
To recover damages in a wrongful death claim, you will need to provide evidence that the death of your loved one was preventable but resulted from the negligence or recklessness of another person or company. As such, your claim must fulfill four elements.
Negligence or Recklessness
You will need to show that the defendant (the person or company you are suing) was negligent or reckless in their actions. For instance, if your loved one died in a car accident, you must show that the other driver was speeding, driving under the influence, or otherwise acting in a way that put other people's lives at risk.
Breach of Duty
You must prove that the defendant owed certain behavior to the victim. For example, all drivers have to obey traffic laws and drive safely. If the other driver failed to do so, the driver may be held liable for your loved one's death.
Cause of Death
You will need to prove that the defendant's negligence or recklessness was the cause of your loved one's death. For instance, if your loved one died in a car accident, you must show that the accident would not have happened if the other driver had been driving safely.
Finally, you must show that you have suffered damages due to your loved one's death. The damage may include economic damages like lost wages and medical bills or non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
Proving wrongful death can be complex but is more manageable with a reliable personal injury attorney. The lawyer will help you understand the legal process, gather evidence, and build a strong case for damages.
You can trust us at Palmetto Injury Lawyers to help you through this tough time. Our experienced attorneys will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a consultation.