3 Important Things To Know About Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Posted on: 20 March 2019

Wrongful death claims are civil actions taken against a party that has wrongfully caused the death of another individual. Claims of this type are brought against the offending party by the survivors of the deceased, allowing them to recover damages suffered as a result of the death. While this can all sound very cold and clinical, lawsuits of this nature are extremely important as a way of holding negligent parties responsible for their actions when the individual who has been harmed by those actions is no longer capable of acting in their own interest. Additionally, damages awarded by a successful claim can help to recover the significant financial impact that often accompanies the loss of a closed love one.

If you are the survivor of an individual whose death was wrongfully caused by another, you are entitled to file a claim of this type.

1. Criminal Conviction Is Not Necessary

It is a common misconception that a civil claim of this type also requires a successful criminal conviction. While a criminal conviction can make a wrongful death suit easier to pursue, it is far from a prerequisite. In fact, civil cases require a lesser standard of evidence known as preponderance of the evidence. Unlike the standard used in criminal cases, this simply requires that the greater weight of evidence fall on the plaintiff's side. Where a criminal trial requires that the prosecution provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, this lower standard simply requires that there is sufficient evidence to show that the defendant is more likely than not to have wrongfully caused the death.

2. Workers' Compensation Does Not Prevent Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If you are familiar with workers' compensation, you may be aware that it generally protects employers from civil action as a result of workplace injuries. In the case of a death, however, survivors can still choose to make a claim against an employer. Unlike a workers' compensation claim, the survivors in a wrongful death claim against an employer are required to prove negligence or other misconduct as well as specific financial damages. This is in contrast to a workers' compensation claim, which is intentionally a no-fault action.

It is important to be aware that the specifics of this type of action and how it interacts with workers' compensation will vary from state to state. In almost all cases, wrongful death actions are permitted, but the actual amount of damage recovered may be limited.

3. You Can Recover Damages for Intangibles

Losing a loved one is a devastating event, and this is especially true when your loved one is taken from you due to the negligence or intentional misconduct of another. While you are most likely aware that you can recover specific damages arising from funeral expenses and loss of income, you may not be aware that you are also potentially entitled to claim a loss of companionship, love, guidance, and care. The loss of a spouse, parent, child, or other close family member has major effects that are difficult to quantify, and that can last for a lifetime. Although specific laws vary from state to state, in many states, you are entitled to receive compensation for the intangible effects that the untimely loss of a loved one has on your life.


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