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Understanding Wrongful Death Claims

The loss of a loved one will always be devastating and may be even more intolerable when the death was preventable. When a death is the result of another’s negligence or wrongdoing, holding the guilty party legally responsible may offer some degree of relief, since at least justice would be served.

The legal term for a death caused by the negligence or wrongdoing of another is “wrongful death.” Family members and beneficiaries may file a “wrongful death” claim against the individual who caused the death on behalf of their loved one. Family members include the victim’s spouse, children, parents, and siblings.

Wrongful death examples

A wrongful death may occur through:

  • An act of violence
  • A defective product
  • Medical malpractice
  • Motor vehicle and common carrier accidents
  • Workplace accidents
  • Exposure to a toxic substance

Determining the legitimacy of a wrongful death claim

For claimants to succeed in a wrongful death action, they must satisfy their burden of proof that more likely than not the defendant is at fault and caused decedent’s death. The plaintiff must establish: 

  1. The defendant owed the victim a duty of care
    1. Every person has the duty to act as a “reasonable prudent person in like circumstances”
    1. Heightened levels of duty exist when there is a special relationship between the defendant and the decedent (e.g., Employer-Employee)
  2. The defendant breached their duty of care (e.g., defendant’s negligent actions)
  3. The breach of duty was the actual and proximate cause of the victim’s death
    1. A defendant is the “actual cause” of the death if “but for” the defendant’s action/inaction the death would not have occurred
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages because of the decedent’s death

Damages in a wrongful death action 

The family of a decedent in a wrongful death action may face various financial and emotional hardships the courts provide compensation for. The following is a list of types of compensation available to a plaintiff in a wrongful death action:

  • Pain and suffering of the decedent
  • Medical expenses incurred by the decedent as a result of injuries prior to death
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Inheritance loss
  • Loss of the decedent for the value of his life
  • Lost wages from the time of the injury and subsequent death, through the number of working years the victim had remaining
  • Loss of household services
  • Loss of care and comfort
  • Loss of companionship for a spouse and their children
  • Loss of consortium

Although no amount of money will ever replace a loved one, holding those responsible will protect others from the same harm that caused your loved one’s death. 

If you have lost a loved one as a result of a wrongful death, it is important to consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Wrongful death claims may be complex and take a further toll on a family’s well-being.

Let us at Alexander & Associates help you in obtaining compensation and justice for your loss. Give us a call and we can answer any questions you may have and help you determine whether you have a wrongful death claim. As experienced wrongful death attorneys, we will do everything in our power to help you.

If you have any questions about this article or any other questions related to personal injury law, please call us toll free at 1-800-529-1333. Our personal injury consultations are always free.

The content of this blog was prepared by Alexander & Associates Attorneys at Law for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or provide legal advice. Laws differ by jurisdiction, and the information in this blog may not apply to you. You should seek the assistance of an attorney licensed to practice in your state before taking any action. Using this blog site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Alexander & Associates Attorneys at Law. Client relationships can only be created by written contract.

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WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY...

“They were amazing I was able to get some Justice for my son who was bitten by a therapist dog! They even came to our home to talk to us. I would recommend to anyone! I didn't know where to go. They answered all my questions and were easy to work with.”
"Alexander and Associates did a great job for us! Peter Addonizio handled my car accident matter. He was very helpful and thorough. I was very happy with the services and the outcome. Thank you! I would highly recommend them."
“They followed up on every phone call. They expedited my case and were very thorough. I'd recommend them to anybody thats been hurt in an accident!I'm very pleased with the professionalism and commitment to make sure my case settled for the maximum amount.”

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