Wrongful death is defined as the death or killing of a person due to the negligence or misconduct of another person. The surviving members of the victim's family might be able to sue for wrongful death damages, but would need to prove negligence on the part of the defendant. So, what are the elements of a wrongful death lawsuit?
First and foremost, a wrongful death lawsuit will be thrown out immediately if the person has yet to die from his or her injury. Any person who is injured by the negligence of another, but has not died, will have to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The lawsuit, in order to move forward, will need to show that the victim's death was caused by the negligence of another or with the intent to cause harm to the victim.
The lawsuit will also need to name surviving family members who are suffering monetary injury as a direct result of the victim's death. A personal representative for the deceased's estate will also need to be appointed in a wrongful death case.
Wrongful death cases can occur in any of the following circumstances:
- Death during an activity that was being supervised.
- Medical malpractice that causes the death of a patient.
- Criminal behavior that leads to the death of a person.
- An airplane or motor vehicle accident.
- Exposure to hazardous materials, substances or conditions during employment.
The main type of damages recovered by a victim's family during a wrongful death lawsuit is that of financial damages. Damages can be acquired for loss of wages, loss of services, loss of inheritance, loss of support, funeral expenses, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
When a wrongful death case reaches the courts, a jury decides the amount awarded to the plaintiff named after hearing evidence. The results of the jury are not the final word though, as the court can adjust the award either positively or negatively based on different reasoning.
Source: Findlaw, "Wrongful Death Overview," accessed Feb. 14, 2017