Wrongful death may be defined as loss of life caused wrongfully by another person. The reasons could be several, such as intentional attack, negligence, carelessness, recklessness, murder, manslaughter or by other means. The plaintiff, usually the spouse or close family member of the deceased, files a wrongful death lawsuit which is a civil action, unlike murder or homicide which are criminal charges. Some common examples (by no means exhaustive) of wrongful death are drunk driving, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, car accidents, construction site accidents, plane crashes, medical malpractice, defective product liability, and fires.
Aspects to Prove
In order to prove and succeed in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff has to prove to the court that:
- The death was caused because of actions, either whole or in part, by the defendant.
- The death was caused because of negligence or otherwise, on the part of the defendant
- That the deceased has left a spouse or other close family members who will collect the damages
- That the death caused actual monetary damages which might be loss of future earnings, loss of inheritance, loss of benefits, pain and suffering, and also punitive damages.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a difficult legal case which should be handled by a wrongful death attorney who has the necessary expertise in this specific area. An attorney will first demand compensation from the defendant. This is to try and resolve the issue without having to go to court. Only if this approach fails will the attorney file a claim to the court. Another alternative to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit is through arbitration. In arbitration, a mutually acceptable arbitrator or board of arbitrators will review the facts of the case and arrive at a decision as to who is at fault, and what is a fair award. The decision of arbitration is absolute and binding to both parties.