Coping with the loss of a loved one never is easy. However, prematurely losing someone close to you due to someone else’s negligence can be particularly challenging to move past. Preventable deaths don’t just deprive you of your loved one’s physical presence and leave you with unexpected end-of-life costs. They also rob you of the future emotional and financial contributions they make to your family. As wrongful death lawyers, we often witness the insurmountable financial obstacles families face following their loved one’s untimely passing.
Fortunately, there is a statute in every state that allows for surviving family members to pursue compensation on their deceased loved one’s behalf for their earlier-than-expected demise. You must be able to prove that another party’s negligence directly caused your relative to die to pursue a wrongful death claim.
What a Wrongful Death Claim Is
Anyone’s passing is undesirable or inopportune, whether it results from an illness, injury, or after they’ve lived a long, fulfilling life. However, most situations where someone dies don’t warrant you filing a wrongful death claim as the person’s passing doesn’t stem from a preventable accident. Deaths caused by another person’s negligence, such as the following, may justify you filing a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation:
- Motor vehicle crashes: Any type of driver negligence, whether it involves a motorist running a stop sign or light, or driving their vehicle while intoxicated and then crossing a centerline, could, for example, unnecessarily claim someone’s life. A defective auto part could cause a car to perform unexpectedly, taking someone’s life.
- Premises liability situations: A property owner who fails to ensure their property is safe may leave visitors vulnerable to losing their lives. For example, slip and falls can result in injuries that claim someone’s life. The absence of adequate lighting or negligent security may allow would-be criminals to assault someone, leaving them for dead.
- Unsafe workplace incidents: In recent years, there’s been an uptick in on-the-job violence. Cases in which workers physically assault their colleagues or members of the public use weapons in seemingly unprovoked attacks are increasing. Any fatal situations like these may meet the standards for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
- Defective product situations: While you may look at a small household appliance and assume that there’s no way it could claim someone’s life, it can. Countless stories have circulated in the media over the years whereby individuals have lost their lives when even the smallest electronic devices have exploded or ignited, killing them on the spot. Airplanes, automobiles, and many other products may have design, manufacturing, or warning issues that claim individuals’ lives.
- Medical malpractice errors: Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals, such as pharmacists, can make mistakes in diagnosing, caring for, and administering medications to patients. Each of these circumstances may leave individuals prematurely dead.
As you can see, there are a variety of circumstances in which human error can deprive what was someone with a full life ahead of them of their future.
How Wrongful Death Claims Work
It’s a plaintiff’s responsibility to prove liability when they are alleging that negligence resulted in a relative’s passing. Evidence must be compiled and presented that shows:
- That the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care
- That the defendant breached their duty of care
- That the defendant’s actions caused the decedent’s fatal injuries
- That a decedent and survivors suffered some kind of quantifiable loss from the fatal incident
While the elements a plaintiff must prove are fairly uniform across every state, each jurisdiction is different when it comes to who can file a wrongful death claim. Generally, the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate can file this claim on surviving family members’ behalf.
Compensation You May Be Eligible to Recover in Wrongful Death Cases
As referenced above, the void often left by the loss of a loved one is more than physical, it deprives families of the financial contribution they counted on for their survival. A wrongful death claim may allow you to recover:
- End-of-life medical costs
- Funeral expenses
- Noneconomic damages, such as losses of consortium or companionship
- Actual lost wages and future lost earnings
The recovery of losses following someone’s avoidable death has few limits. Wrongful death lawyers like ours at Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm often use actuary tables to determine how long a decedent would have lived and how much they would have earned across their lifetime had it not been for their untimely death. We use this information, as well as accounts about how much you counted on them for your family’s financial wellbeing when requesting compensation in your case.
How Wrongful Death Lawyers Advocate for Clients
Individuals who have lost someone close to them are often rightfully so caught off guard by their unexpected loss that they can’t imagine doing much more than continuing to grieve their loss. The void that a person’s untimely departure from their lives leaves behind can make it challenging for you to take time to learn what options you have for holding responsible parties liable for their actions. Our wrongful death lawyers want to make things easy for you.
Schedule a free case evaluation with one of our Buckingham Barrera Vega Law Firm locations so that we can learn more about what led to your loved one’s death. We’ll go over your legal rights. If you decide to work with us, we’ll take over communicating and negotiating with insurance companies so that you can begin rebuilding your life after your loss.