Wrongful death cases arise when a person dies as a result of the fault of somebody else. These cases are statutory in nature, and every state has its own wrongful death statute. The most common wrongful death cases involve auto accidents and premises liability cases. Both of those are heard under the law of negligence. If a person died as a result of using a product, the wrongful death case would be heard pursuant to the law of product liability, and if the case arose from a murder, any wrongful death case would be heard under the law of intentional torts.
There could be indications that a viable wrongful death case might exist, but the law might not allow you to file it. You need to look at your state’s wrongful death statute and determine whether your relationship with the deceased person allows you to file the action. In some states, only the administrator of the decedent’s estate can bring the action. In other states, a spouse, child, sibling or parent might be allowed to bring it.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case. You’re required to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the evidence that you support your case with must be more likely true than not true. Suspicion, speculation and conjecture aren’t sufficient evidence. You’ll ultimately be required to show that an act or failure to act was the direct and proximate cause of the person’s death. A plea of guilty to a charge of driving under the influence, or blood alcohol level of .08 or above at the time of a fatal crash might be an indication of sufficient evidence. If a person died as a result of a doctor’s deviation from the standard of care, that might be sufficient evidence too.
Every state has its own time period that a wrongful death case must be brought by. It might be as short as a year or as long as five years. There are very few exceptions to this time constraint. You might not have a case if you wait too long and sit on your rights. Be aware of the statute of limitations for a wrongful death action in your state.
If you suffered damages as a result of the person’s death, the law might allow you to either bring or be included in a wrongful death lawsuit. Damages generally consist of the loss of financial, emotional and other support that the decedent had been contributing their family and household.
If the victim survived the wrongful act or failure to act for even just a few moments, you might also be eligible to participate in a survival action too. Each state has its own survival statute, and additional damages can be sought under that statute. You’ll want to speak with an experienced and respected wrongful death attorney about any indications that you might have a wrongful death case.
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