Losing a loved one is never easy. When your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of wanton actions of another, it can make the grieving experience that much harder.
If you lost a loved one due to wrongful death, you may be able to take legal action to recover compensation for your losses. To learn more about what you may qualify for and what options you have, continue reading.
Establishing Wrongful Death Occurred
Before filing a claim, it is crucial to confirm wrongful death occurred. “Wrongful death claims will arise when a person dies due to the wrongful act or negligence of another person, business, or entity,” notes Sacramento wrongful death lawyer S. David Rosenthal, “There are various elements that need to be in place for a wrongful death claim to be successful.” Four basic elements must be met to determine if wrongful death occurred:
- Duty: There must have been a duty from the negligent party to the victim. Common examples include a driver’s responsibility to everyone on the road and a doctor’s responsibility to his or her patients.
- Breach of Duty: There must be a breach of the understood duty from one party to the other. The negligent party must have failed to act in a way that a reasonable or responsible person would. Common examples of breaches of duty include a driver driving while intoxicated or failing to follow street lights.
- Causation: The negligent party was the direct or indirect cause of the death.
- Damages: The actions of the negligent party caused measurable damages. Common examples include medical bills and funeral costs.
Your Relation to the Deceased
After losing a loved one, you may wonder what your options are for recovering financial compensation. Eligibility for filing a wrongful death varies from state to state.
Some states, like California, only allow for immediate family members to file a wrongful death claim. Other states allow for any family member that was receiving financial support from the deceased to file a wrongful death claim. To learn more about the wrongful death laws in your state, speak with an experienced attorney in your area.
The amount of recoverable damages in a wrongful death case vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Typically, wrongful death damages are divided into three categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are losses that are easily calculated. Examples of economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral costs
- Lost income
- Future income
Non-economic damages are losses that are more difficult to quantify. Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of loss
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress or anguish
While rare, punitive damages are awarded in cases where extreme negligence or wanton actions resulted in the death. Punitive damages are meant to punish the liable party for their actions that resulted in the victim’s death.
Your Rights After the Loss of a Loved One
If you lost your loved one due to wrongful death and fit the previously listed criteria, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. While the loss of a loved one is never easy, recovering damages for your loss may help to allow you to heal and rebuild your life.
Immediately schedule a consultation with a qualified wrongful death attorney in your area if you suspect your loved one passed away due to wrongful death. An experienced attorney will ensure you meet all filing requirements and will work to help secure the maximum financial compensation available.