The intended actions of an individual or simply his negligence can sadly cause the death of another one. There is nothing that can compensate for the death of your loved one, yet that doesn’t mean ignoring your rights to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
These types of claims are handled as civil lawsuits. They are considered deaths that could have been avoided had it not been for negligence or intentional acts. There are certain damages that families experience because of someone’s death, such as lost wages or loss of companionship. The victim might be the main breadwinner of the family or has left behind young children and other family members whose livelihood depended on him. There are certain facts that you need to know about these claims.
Check out the most important ones.
Who Can Make a Claim?
It is most probably the spouse, adult children, or parents of a victim that make a claim. This group of people is considered the first of Kin relatives of the person. If none of them exist, the right to sue goes to the next of kin, such as siblings or grandparents. In certain states, any person who has suffered financially because of a wrongful death can make a claim; California is one of these states. If you are a California resident, a personal injury lawyer will tell you if you have a viable claim and give you more information concerning all aspects of a wrongful death claim. For instance, people in such situations usually question what they would be compensated for.
This can include:
- Loss of wages or expected financial support
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of inheritance because of the death
- Loss of love, support, companionship, and the sort
- Medical treatment that the victim might have received directly after the injury or illness that caused their death
- Loss of care and guidance that the victim would have provided
There is also another system called the Loss-To-Estate System. In this one, a representative of the victim’s estate can make a claim. The representatives are usually appointed by the probate court, which is a long and tedious procedure that validates wills. The representative files the claim under their name alone. Any compensation goes into a special trust to be distributed later on to the beneficiaries.
What Are the Types of Wrongful Death?
Out of the personal injury cases, wrongful death is the most serious one. A wrongful death could come about from:
- Vehicle accidents
- Trucking accidents
- Defective products
- Motorcycle accidents
- Workplace accidents or illness
- Medical malpractice
- Facility negligence (hospitals, nursing homes, etc.)
It’s not easy to find a person who is liable for a wrongful death. You have to prove that the person was at-fault or somehow responsible and that it was their duty to care for the plaintiff. For instance, if it is a vehicle, truck, or motorcycle accident, you are required to prove the culprit might have been DUI or there was reckless driving involved. If it is a malpractice suit, you have to prove the doctor or the facility was at fault and so on.
How Much Is a Claim Worth?
As can be noted, claims are of different types because surviving members have lost financial and non-financial support. The specific worth of a claim depends on several factors. Many things are evaluated such as whether the deceased died instantly or went through pain and suffering. Loss of comfort, solace, and affection are other things that are considered in a claim too. The compensation that people can receive starts from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on each case. A good personal injury attorney will evaluate each situation individually and inform you of the claims you can make.
When Should I File a Claim?
Wrongful death claims do have a statute of limitations. This means the claim must be filed within a certain period from the time of death. In most states, the statute of limitations is 2 years, but this could differ from one state to another. Any professional lawyer can easily calculate the timeframe of your state. If you fail to make your claim within a time period, then you will lose your right for compensation and won’t be allowed to even make a claim.
Do I Have To Go To Court?
Some cases will wind up in court, but a vast majority are settled out of court. Considering that fact, it’s essential that you hire an attorney who can litigate your case in court should it lead to that. Having an experienced lawyer with a good track record will also help in getting you the highest compensation outside of a court hearing.
Wrongful deaths cause shock for family members. Also, one cannot deny that there is always some anger present when you feel that death could have been avoided. Your grief and anger could cloud up your thoughts and judgment. This is why going to a lawyer during this stressful time is the best option as he can easily help you with all the legal matters of a wrongful death claim.