What Is A Wrongful Death?

remembering a loved one who was in a fatal accident
  • Was the death caused in any way by the defendant’s actions or lack of action?
  • Was the defendant negligent or liable in the victim’s death?
  • Are there surviving family members such as a spouse or child, dependents, or beneficiaries?
  • Is there a financial loss (including medical bills, funeral expenses, and/or loss of income) as a direct result of the victim’s death?

If your loved one has died due to someone else’s actions, you need a wrongful death lawyer. Dealing with the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one is never easy. It can be even more difficult knowing that their death may have been preventable.

Families may experience financial challenges without the assistance of the bereaved, in addition to the emotional sorrow of losing a loved one. A wrongful death lawsuit may be able to assist in alleviating this financial burden. 

Most states allow the bereaved family members to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party to claim compensation for their loss. Contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys today for a free consultation if your loved one’s death occurred because of someone else’s negligence. We are here to help during this difficult time. 

Reasons You Need A Wrongful Death Lawyer

The death of a loved one is often a traumatic experience and the deceased’s family members often have a lot to deal with. Investigating a death and filling out tons of paperwork need not be part of those tasks. Trying to navigate the wrongful death claims process alone is difficult. This is why hiring a wrongful death lawyer can help take the load off your shoulders so that you can focus on the things that matter.

In certain circumstances, it may be simple to determine a wrongful death. For example, a drunk driver hits an oncoming driver head-on causing a fatal accident. In this case, it is clear who is at fault, and why the deceased has passed. But in other wrongful death claims, it can be difficult to tell what really happened. For example in delayed diagnosis causing wrongful death, there are many more questions that will come up to prove fault. Wrongful death lawyers also investigate when a responsible individual or entity attempts to hide or deflect responsibility in order to avoid accepting any blame. A wrongful death lawyer can analyze the situation and determine what transpired in order to prove the wrongful death claim. This allows them to seek justice for the deceased’s family.

The laws governing wrongful death cases differ from one state to the next. You may not be able to claim for damages depending on the area or state in which you live. In certain areas, the ability to claim is limited to close family members. Extended families and even non-relatives are allowed to file wrongful death lawsuits in certain situations in other states. 

Family members may not be allowed to take legal action at all in some states. Instead, only the deceased person’s personal representative of the estate is allowed to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. After that, the representative distributes the funds to eligible relatives.

States also have different statutes of limitations. This is the time frame after a person’s death that wrongful death claims may be made. Even if you have a valid wrongful death claim, if you do not file the claim within the allotted time, you can lose your right to pursue the claim. The statute of limitations may be extended in certain situations, but it is best to have a lawyer look over your case as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline. A wrongful death lawyer who is knowledgeable about the wrongful death law in your state can clarify your legal rights.

Every case is different and comes with its own set of facts and circumstances. It can therefore be incredibly difficult to calculate damages and negotiate a settlement without the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney.

While economic damages, such as the funeral costs, may be easy to calculate, non-economic damages, such as the pain and suffering you experienced, may not be as easy to determine. Insurance companies will try to offer the minimum amount possible, but fair compensation is deserved for families of wrongful death victims.

A lawyer with wrongful death experience can examine all the necessary information and establish a reasonable amount of compensation for your wrongful death claim. The lawyer can file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the surviving family members and try to reach a settlement with the client without going to court. 

While many civil matters are resolved through settlements, there are situations when the parties are unable to reach an agreement. If this occurs, a lawyer may file a wrongful death suit and have a jury decide whether you deserve to be compensated and how much you must receive.

Once the prior steps discussed have been completed, it’s time to fight for compensation.  Our attorneys are ready to stand by you and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

Our sucess is from combined years of trial and complex litigation experience. We founded our practice on the belief that the civil jury system is the best means to provide compensation to injured parties and deter wrongdoers from injuring others in the future.

Our attorneys are here for you, call us now to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. You can focus on grieving, we will focus on getting you compensation for your loss. Talk to a wrongful death lawyer at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys by clicking the button below.

What Is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death claims are legal lawsuits brought by the survivors or immediate family members of someone who died due to someone else’s carelessness or wrongdoing

The law permits the deceased’s family members to initiate a wrongful death action seeking financial compensation in these situations. Wrongful death lawsuits serve to compensate families who relied on the bereaved for both emotional and financial support.

A car accident that happened because someone else was exceeding the speed limit or driving under the influence is commonly the subject of wrongful death cases.

Medical negligence lawsuits and dangerous purposeful activity or criminality that ended in death are further examples.

The results of wrongful death cases are purely monetary. If a decedent’s survivors win a wrongful death lawsuit, the court orders the accused to provide monetary compensation.

A wrongful death lawsuit differs significantly from criminal prosecution. A criminal case is where a guilty verdict leads to criminal charges, including probation, time in jail, and other punishments. A wrongful death suit, on the other hand, is limited to monetary damages.

Family mourns a wrongful death victim.

Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

It isn’t always easy to prove wrongful death, but it can be done with the help of an experienced lawyer. Several things must be established in order for a case to be considered a wrongful death. 

First, the claimant must prove that the perpetrator had a duty of care to the decedent. This means that they had a responsibility to keep that person safe. An example of this is an employer who was responsible for providing a safe working environment for his employees. 

Next, the claimant must prove that the perpetrator didn’t just have a duty of care to the deceased but failed to carry out that duty of care. In our example, if the employer failed to provide a safe working environment for the deceased, he has breached his duty of care.

Claimants must also clearly establish that they incurred damages (funeral expenses, medical bills, lost wages, etc.) that directly resulted from the wrongful death of their loved one. 

Proving wrongful death is what wrongful death attorneys do best.

After a family member’s death, many expenses often follow, which can be filed as wrongful death damages. Damages are the items that you can recover compensation for after a fatal accident.

While a personal injury lawyer can help you determine the amount of your wrongful death claim, there are two main categories that damages (the expenses or losses incurred) fall into. They are economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

The financial expenses sustained due to a loved one’s death are referred to as economic damages. These damages may often be calculated easily. Economic damages include costs that were incurred directly due to the accident.  This includes things such as:

  • Medical expenses from the accident
  • Property Damage 
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses

Economic damage also includes the loss of the decedent’s current and future wages as well as any inheritance they would have received.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages, unlike monetary expenses, may be more challenging to measure. They include the emotional damages that a family experiences for losing a family member’s support and affection, companionship, advice, and intimate relationships that are lost due to someone else’s recklessness or wrongful behavior.  This can also include the suffering and mental anguish caused by the loss. 

Because these damages are hard to quantify, it is essential to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney. 

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are a third type of damage that can be added to some wrongful death cases, but not all. Fatal accidents that were caused by intentional, reckless, or grossly negligent actions allow the family member to also seek compensation for punitive damages. This is monetary compensation to punish the at-fault party for their actions.

Wrongful death occurs for various reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of wrongful death:

  • Car Accidents. All drivers have a duty to travel in a way that does not cause harm to other people. When a driver neglects to do this by driving under the influence or ignoring speed limits or road signs, this can lead to the wrongful death of another motorist or a passenger.
  • Truck Accidents. Another common cause of fatalities is truck accidents, where the carelessness of truck drivers leads to accidents.
  • Motorcycle Accidents.  Due to the nature of a motorcycle, and the lack of safety and protection they provide, when they are involved in an accident it can be fatal. 
  • Medical Malpractice. When doctors and other healthcare workers fail to perform their duties correctly, it can result in the death of a patient.  This includes hospital negligence as well as a medical or medication error, or the fault of a healthcare provider. 
  •  Work Injuries. According to a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 5,333 workers died while working in 2019. When an employer fails to provide a safe working environment for their employees, it can lead to the death of a worker that may have been prevented.
  • Other Accidents:  Fatal injuries can happen anytime and in many different situations.  Other less common cases have come from birth injuries, pedestrian accidents, and other intentional or unintentional accidents. 

Wrongful death lawsuits may often only be filed by the immediate surviving family members of the deceased. This includes:

  • The surviving spouse
  • A domestic partner
  • The children of the deceased
  • A putative spouse

If the deceased has no living progeny, the person eligible to inherit their possessions or property has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Alternatively, anyone who the court has established as the deceased person’s estate representative for those who have not left a will may file this lawsuit. 

A victim’s death cannot be brought to justice by distant family members or by anyone the court has not approved as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate.

Wrongful death restitution is limited in some states. In fact, wrongful death cases in several states have a maximum amount that family members can make a wrongful death claim for. However, the total monetary restrictions and the categories of losses that can be claimed or in these lawsuits often differ from one state to another.

In certain states, the non-economic damages payable in a wrongful death action have an absolute cap. The non-economic losses, such as the emotional trauma of losing a loved one, are distinct from monetary losses such as healthcare costs or lost pay. 

Other states limit the amount that you can claim for specific types of wrongful deaths. It is best to speak to an attorney about your certain circumstances to determine whether these caps apply in your state.

The wrongful death statute of limitations in most states in the United States is two years from the date of the victim’s demise. Timing is crucial when it comes to a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death attorneys typically offer a free consultation, so we suggest calling as soon as possible to see if you have a case.

Wrongful death attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they only receive payment when you receive compensation. This means that there are no upfront costs, and if the lawyer can’t get you compensation, you pay nothing. Most offer a free case evaluation, so there is no risk in calling to discuss your case to see if you have a legal claim.

We Are Ready To Fight For You

The legal team at Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys understands how traumatic dealing with a wrongful death case can be, which is why we approach each client with care and respect. We ensure that you are taken care of, and will fight to the end to make sure you are compensated fairly.

Contact the law firm of Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation from a qualified and experienced wrongful death lawyer today!