Wrongful death is a claim that can be brought against a negligent party for having caused the death of another. The claim is brought in a civil action, usually by close relatives.
When someone dies due to the fault of another person or entity (like a car manufacturer), the survivors may be able to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Such a lawsuit seeks compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.
A wrongful death claim exists when a person dies due to the legal fault of another person. Wrongful death claims involve all types of fatal accidents from simple car accidents to complicated medical malpractice or product liability cases. Persons, companies, and governmental agencies can be legally at fault for acting negligently (failing to act as a reasonable person would have acted) and for acting intentionally.
A wrongful death claim must be filed by a representative on behalf of the survivors who suffer damage from the decedent’s death. The representative is usually the executor of the decedent’s estate.
Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against a wide variety of persons, companies, government agencies, and employees. For example, in a car accident involving a faulty roadway and a drunk driver, a wrongful death action might include defendants such as the driver or employer at fault in the automobile accident, the designer or builder of the faulty roadway, a government agent who failed to provide adequate warnings regarding a road hazard that caused the accident, the manufacturer, distributor, or installer of a faulty or dangerous part of the vehicle, the persons who sold, served, or gave alcohol to the impaired driver, or the owner of the premises where the alcohol was served.
Because wrongful death actions often involve complex areas of the law (like medical malpractice) and can result in large damage awards, it is often wise to hire, or at least consult with, a lawyer. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one due to the negligence of another, we can help.