Wrongful Death is best described when a person's death is caused by the wrongful act or negligence of another.
Wrongful death is the basis for a lawsuit, a wrongful death action, against the party or parties who caused the wrongful death. Action may be filed on behalf of the members of the family who have lost the company and support of the deceased due to wrongful death.
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Thus, a child might be entitled to compensation for the personal loss of a father through wrongful death as well
as the amount of financial support the child would have received from the deceased parent while the parent was still alive. A wife, however, would recover damages for loss of her husband's love and companionship and a lifetime of expected support, while a "parent" would be limited to damages for loss of companionship but not support.
Almost every state has enacted a statute permitting a wrongful death lawsuit to be brought by the relatives of a person who died as a result of a wrongful death. These "wrongful death statutes" or "survivor statutes" vary greatly from state to state.
For example, in some states only a spouse and children may bring a wrongful death lawsuit, while in other states, grandparents or other relatives may also bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
The idea behind a wrongful death lawsuit is that the wrongful death, in addition to injuring the person who died, also injured people who depended upon the deceased for financial or emotional support before the wrongful death.
A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by either of the following: the executor or the administrator of the estate that belonged to the deceased, or by the individual beneficiaries and / or family members.
Under "common law," the general legal principles passed from England to the United States, over hundreds of years, for this type of claim did not exist. It was reasoned that the claim died with the victim; and the surviving family members could not claim damages from the person who caused the victim's death. To correct this injustice, the individual states have passed "wrongful death statutes" over the years. Some form of wrongful death claim action exists in all state jurisdictions today.
While they all follow some general principles, each state jurisdiction is unique, since each state has drafted its own form of "wrongful death statutes."
A legal cause of action for wrongful death may exist when a person dies from the negligence of another. Such a situation may arise in a number of different contexts. Wrongful Death Acts may be defined as any of the following examples:
- A negligent or careless act such as a negligent driver
- A motor vehicle/trucking accident
- Defective automobile, tractor or
- A reckless act by another person, or
- An intentional act such as a deliberate murder such as an attack such as assault and/or battery
- A death in the course of another crime
- A death during a medical operation, the neglect of a doctor, hospital or nursing home
- Defective drugs or medication
- A company's negligence in the enforcement of Safety Regulations
- Faulty equipment or tools
- A property owner who fails to meet Safety Regulations
The loss of a loved one brings many unfortunate consequences on the survivors and the grief and loss of companionship of a father, mother or child is something that cannot be measured in terms of dollars or damages. However, in some circumstances, it is appropriate for the wife, husband, parents or children to seek damages for the wrongful death of a loved one.
Losing a loved one, especially in wrongful death situations, is one of the worst events that can happen to a person. This is especially true because the incidents could have been easily avoided in most "wrongful death" cases. The last thing that grieving family members want to do after the loss of a loved one is fight with an insurance company or investigate the incidents that may have caused the death.
It is vitally important to preserve evidence in a wrongful death case. Whether it is a part from a tool or an appliance, an automobile, medical records, pill bottles or other evidence should be obtained with the services of legal counsel. They will assist in the collection and preservation of evidence is an important step in protecting the rights of those who may have a wrongful death case.
Attorneys are best suited to assist you with the initial investigation of events surrounding the incident that you believe may constitute a wrongful death.