Wrongful death claims are lawsuits brought against a defendant when death is the direct result of either an intentional act or negligence. This type of claim is brought by the estate of the deceased and or by family or close friends; it is filed against any party or parties that are legally liable. The laws of wrongful death vary in every state; however, in every state, the plaintiff must be able to prove that the victim would not have died had it not been for the defendant’s actions or negligence.
A wrongful death claim can be brought for many reasons; however, the main three are: when a victim is intentionally killed, when a victim dies as a result of medical malpractice, and car accident fatalities involving negligence. In cases where a victim is intentionally killed, it is a civil case, separate from the criminal charges brought against the defendant. In lawsuits involving the death of a patient due to medical malpractice, the defendant is often the practicing physician, but the facility where treatment, as well as any other party, found to be accountable in the death can be sued as well. These cases are often defined by a doctor failing to diagnose a medical illness or by a level of carelessness during patient care. An example of a car accident that led to death due to negligence would be if the defendant drove under the influence, caused an accident, and someone died as a result.
If the lawsuit is won, the plaintiff may be eligible for compensation for the following:
• Medical treatment costs that were incurred by the deceased.
• Deceased’s pre-death “pain and suffering.”
• Funeral and burial costs.
• Loss of the deceased’s expected income.