A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim for monetary compensation filed by a wrongful death attorney on behalf of the successors to the victim. A wrongful death claim is of comparatively recent origin because “common law”, the general principles of English law passed on to the United States, had no such provision. Common law did not recognize a wrongful death claim on grounds that a claim dies with a victim since there was no possible means to compensate the victim for damages. There was no provision for surviving members to claim any form of compensation till federal and state courts created the enactment, in the United States, sometime in the last century.
Many people thought this was right because common law did not extend far enough. In this regard, common law’s teeth were not sharp enough and for this reason, it had to be amended. A wrongful death claim generally has four parts to it which have to be proved:
- That the conduct of the defendant was responsible in whole or part for the death
- That the defendant was strictly liable and negligent due to which the victim died
- That the victim has left behind a surviving spouse and children, dependents, and/or beneficiaries
- The victim’s death has resulted in monetary damages
A Clear Picture
A wrongful death lawsuit might be filed by a number of persons associated with the victim by blood, relationship, and association. These include immediate family members such as the wife and children, financial dependents, life partners, putative spouses, distant family members like siblings and grandparents, and any other person or persons, even though unrelated by blood or marriage to the victim, who suffer financially. You should see the picture more clearly now on why common law did not go far enough and that to leave it so without making a change would not be ethically sound or consistent.
A Statewide Difference
Certain states recognize the right of parents of a deceased fetus to file a wrongful death lawsuit. In other states, this law does not apply but parents can bring a wrongful death action if the child was born alive and then died. If you need to know which law applies to your state, check with a wrongful death lawyer.