Nothing can compensate the loss of a loved one. However, the law makes it a point that the dependent of a deceased person gets adequate monetary compensation if the person dies due to the mistake, negligence or ignorance of someone else. You cannot fill the void created due to the untimely death of a person whom you loved and depended for your emotional and financial needs. A wrongful death lawsuit, however, can help you get your justifiable share of monetary compensation. So, here we give you an overview of everything you should know about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
The Grounds For Filing Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit. You need to prove your case on some grounds to be entertained by the court. There are basically two points that the person filing the lawsuit should prove:
- The death was due to someone else’s mistake, negligence or intention rather than the action or inaction of the deceased.
- The dependent/s claiming the compensation suffered measurable damages due to the death of the person, including direct financial and emotional damages. Although emotional damages cannot be reversed, the law tries to compensate it with money.
It is not easy to prove these two points and that’s why you need an experienced attorney who can fight the case on your behalf and earn you the deserved compensation. In such a case, a wrongful death attorney in California might be what you need to help your case get the full attention it deserves.
The Type Of Damages That Can Be Claimed In A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The spouse and children of the deceased person are universally entitled to any claim arising out of wrongful deaths. But in some states, extended family members who were dependent on the deceased person too have the right to get their share in the compensation. Either way, the court requires surviving members to prove their relation and dependency on the deceased person to become eligible for the claim.
Once your attorney establishes the fact in the court that the death was a wrongful death and you were legally dependant on the person, you become entitled to several claims and compensations. Here is a quick overview of them:
- Medical Bills: If the death of your loved one was not an on-the-spot one, you might have spent some money on his/her treatment. You are entitled to a full reimbursement of all such medical expenses you bore due to that fateful incident.
- Burial Cost: It may sound weird, but in addition to medical bills, dependents can also claim for the burial cost of the deceased person.
- Compensatory financial damages: This forms a major portion of the claim you receive. This is the compensation for the lost wages that the person would have earned if he/she lived up to his/her normal life expectancy.
- Compensatory emotional damages: This is to compensate the pain and suffering the surviving family members have to undergo due to the absence of their loved one. As there isn’t a tool to measure such a pain and suffering, the amount of compensation varies significantly. This is where you need an expert in the field. Hiring an experienced wrongful death attorney can be the best bet to get a higher compensation for emotional damages.
- Punitive damages: Again, the amount you receive as a compensation for punitive damages depends highly on the skills and experience of the attorney you hire. The punitive damage has nothing to do with the loss suffered by the dependant of the deceased person. It is the damage charged to the party at fault as a punishment. This is an indicative damage to tell the party at fault that somebody suffered a heavy loss due to his/her negligence or mistake. And it is expected from the person not to repeat the mistake again. A notable point here is that punitive damages are not allowed by all the states.
Another important point you should note here is that you cannot wait for too long to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It is always in your best interest to contact the attorney without much delay and file the suit as early as you can. If you wait for too long, you might be barred forever by the law to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Even if you are not sure if the death of your loved one was caused due to someone else’s negligence, mistake, or ignorance, you should consult an attorney to be clear about your legal rights.