Wrongful death is a legal term that is used to describe someone’s life being taken because of a negligent or deliberate action by a person or persons.
If someone dies because of another person’s wrongful conduct, their family or other beneficiaries have the right to file a wrongful death suit against the responsible party or parties. The statues regarding wrongful death vary from one state to another. These statues primarily define who is allowed to sue for wrongful death. They also place limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded.
The original purpose of wrongful death statues was to allow willows and orphans to receive support after their benefactor had died. They were also designed to encourage people to prevent death due to negligence. Wrongful death suits are separate from criminal charges. Criminal cases and civil cases regarding someone’s death won’t impact each other. Because of this, someone can be sued by a victim’s family even after they were acquitted of murder.
You can bring a wrongful death action against someone for either an intentional or an unintentional act. What matters is that the injury the person receives results in their death. For example, a driver that kills someone else in a car accident could be held responsible for their negligence. Someone that violates local laws and fails to enclose their swimming pool could be held liable if a child drowns in that pool. Of course, someone that is accused of intentionally murdering a person could have a wrongful death action filed against them as well.
However, wrongful death statues do not apply to someone that has not been born. Legal living status only begins after a person is born alive. However, if a baby is born and goes on to die because of an injury they incurred before their birth, wrongful death action could be taken against the person that caused the injury.
Only specific people are permitted to sue for wrongful death. The individuals that are permitted to file suit vary from one state to the next. In most cases, statues allow a surviving spouse, a person’s next of kin, or their children to sue.
Some states allow a surviving spouse to sue even if they had separated from their partner before their death. However, a person is not entitled to sue for wrongful death if their spouse was guilty of desertion before their death. If you are considering filing a wrongful death suit, you will want to look closely at the statues in your state.
The burden of proof for civil cases isn’t as high as the burden of proof in criminal cases. Because of this, a lot of families are able to successfully file suits against someone even if they are found not guilty in a court of law. As mentioned above, the ruling in a criminal trial has no basis on the ruling in a civil trial.
There are attorneys that specialize in wrongful death lawsuits. If you are considering filing a suit like this, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.