Wrongful Death Claims and Damages
The death of a loved one is a terrible loss, especially if it comes at the hands of someone else’s negligence or intentional behavior. The financial and emotional injuries suffered by family members and loved ones who are left behind are injuries that no lawsuit can possibly make right. Nevertheless, a wrongful death action can help lessen the financial burdens related to that loss.
Although state laws may vary on the details of bringing a wrongful death action for the loss of a loved one, wrongful death actions are available to family members or loved ones who suffer a financial burden as a result of the wrongful death. These financial burdens might include:
- Funeral or burial expenses
- The value of any services, companionship, or support that the decedent provided to the family during life but that is now lost
- Damages for any medical bills or pain and suffering that the decent may have incurred between the time of the accident or event and the time of their death
- The value of the decedent’s lost income
- The value of any care the decedent may have provided to minor children or a disabled individual
- Punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant was particularly callous or indifferent to the decedent’s safety
The sudden burden of these losses can add financial strain to a family that is already grieving. They can delay the healing process. If you are a parent whose adult child died because of another person’s actions, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit and be financially compensated for your tragic loss. We at Foster Wallace, LLC, will assess your claim and the damages that you may be entitled to so that you can grieve the loss of your loved one without this additional financial burden on your family.
What is a Wrongful Death Action?
A wrongful death action is a civil lawsuit. Every state has its own wrongful death statute but, in general, to prove a wrongful death action, the plaintiff must prove that:
- A family member has died
- The family member’s death was caused by another person’s negligent or intentional conduct
- There are surviving family members who have suffered a financial loss as a result of the wrongful death
These elements can result from any number of situations. Wrongful death actions can arise because of:
This is not an inclusive list. Any negligent behavior or intentional act that results in the death of another may be the basis for a wrongful death action. However, these are the most common scenarios associated with wrongful death lawsuits.
If you suspect that your loved one’s death was the result of the negligence of someone else, see the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC. We have the expertise to determine if the cause of your loved one’s death may be the basis for a wrongful death action and we will fight for you and your loved one to be sure you are compensated fully for your loss.
Who can file a Wrongful Death Action?
Wrongful death actions are different from most lawsuits with respect to who can file the claim. In most lawsuits, the person who has been injured files the lawsuit. However, in wrongful death cases, the person who is directly injured cannot file the lawsuit on their own behalf. Instead, someone else brings the claim for them. Each state’s wrongful death statute outlines who is allowed to bring the wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent. In general, states permit the decedent’s personal representative or immediate family members to bring the wrongful death claim.
If the decedent died with a will in place, either the will itself or the court will name a personal representative to administer the estate. In this situation, the personal representative is usually the only person who can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of the decedent.
Where there is no personal representative in place, all states allow immediate family members to bring a wrongful death action. Generally, if the decedent was an adult, the spouse must be the one who brings the lawsuit. This is because the spouse is the person most likely to have suffered the most direct injury.
If the decedent was a minor, the parents are the people most injured and most closely related. Therefore, the parents of a deceased minor are the appropriate persons to bring the wrongful death action.
Usually, parents may also bring a wrongful death action on behalf of an adult child when the adult child had no:
- Surviving spouse
- Surviving adult children
Even though a state may allow a qualified parent to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of their adult child, the state may limit how much compensation the parents can receive. For instance, some states may allow the parents to receive compensation for medical and funeral costs but not for pain and suffering.
A Parent May Bring a Wrongful Death Action on Behalf of an Adult Child
Losing a child is a terrible tragedy, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the loss. Filing a lawsuit might be the last thing on your mind. However, bringing a wrongful death action can help you deal with the financial consequences of your loss.
You may be able to bring a wrongful death action on behalf of your adult child if they:
- Died as the result of another person’s negligent or intentional action
- Had no surviving spouse
- Had no surviving adult children