Wrongful death is a civil suit that is brought against a person or organization who is responsible for the death of your loved one through negligence. There are certain elements that make up this type of legal action that you need to be aware of.
Wrongful death can be caused in many environments
Sometimes people associate wrongful death with doctors and hospitals. Although there are certainly cases of wrongful death in the medical field, wrongful death can happen everywhere. The key reason for your loved one's death needs to be that someone failed in doing their job, or broke a law that led to your loved one's death. This latter reason is often someone who was drunk behind the wheel of a car. But in the majority of cases, it will be because of negligence on the part of an organization or its employees. This includes caregivers, childcare, schools, retail businesses, and consumer products to name only a few.
Wrongful death is not only negligent actions
It is possible to bring a wrongful death case against someone who has murdered your loved one. Of course, because this is obviously a crime, there will likely be a trial first. However, after the trial, you can bring a wrongful death suit against the perpetrator, whether they were found guilty or not guilty. If no charges are ever filed, you can still bring a lawsuit. Keep in mind that the standards of guilt in a civil court are lower than a criminal court. The jury in a criminal court is looking for guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, but in a civil court, the jury is looking at the preponderance of the evidence. This standard makes it easier to win your case.
There are several areas of awards for damages
The first is pecuniary loss. This amount is related to the total income that your loved one would have generated throughout his life. This amount of money was lost to surviving family members due to an untimely death. There is also a personal injury element to a wrongful death case. Depending upon state law, this may be a separate suit that takes place in parallel to a wrongful death suit. These damages relate to the pain and suffering of your loved one may have felt before he or she died. Often people severely injured can suffer before their death. And the last area is that of punitive damages. This is money awarded as punishment for those found guilty of wrongful death.
Wrongful death cases are governed by state laws, and there are significant differences between states in this area. Always consult with wrongful death attorney services about your specific circumstances. A lawyer can help you determine the strength of your case, and how much of an award you may be entitled to.