If a person dies due to the negligence of another person or entity, the victim's surviving family members may be able to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits may be filed in instances of accidents or misconduct, but they are also often filed in the aftermath of a criminal trial because they use similar evidence but require lesser standards of proof.
Wrongful death cases are brought by the representatives of the deceased's estate. Personal injury, pain and suffering, and expenses incurred before the victim's death may also be brought at this time. It's important to note that each state deals with wrongful death statutes differently and that damages awarded to the state may be distributed according to the will of the deceased.
The death of a human being
Negligence or intentional harm on the part of another person
Surviving family members who suffer financial injury
A personal representative for the decedent's estate must be appointed
Wrongful death claims may be filed for a number of reasons, including:
Death during supervised activities
Note that wrongful death claims are bound by a statute of limitations, although claims may be filed after the fact if new circumstances come to light; this is called the “discovery rule.”
The biggest determination of damages is the financial impact of the wrongful death. This includes things like lost support, medical expenses, and funeral expenses. Generally, laws require that these damages are fair and just compensation. Most of the time the amounts awarded are based on the circumstances of the deceased, such as their current income, health, character, condition, and future earning potential. In cases where the deceased has children, the loss of parental guidance is also involved.
Juries typically determine the damages in a wrongful death suit, but theirs is not the final word. Sometimes the court may adjust the awarded damages based on the presence of additional information. If the deceased had poor financial management, this could have an impact on the recovery; likewise, if they were unemployed or low income but had the potential for growth, more damages may be awarded.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where serious or malicious wrongdoing has occurred. This is meant to punish the defendant. In Illinois, punitive damages are generally not allowed to be recovered in wrongful death cases.
If your loved one has died as a result of someone’s negligence or malicious behavior, you should definitely call an experienced attorney to help you explore whether or not you have a case for wrongful death. You should not have to worry about maintaining finances in the aftermath of your grief. Call me today to learn how I may be able to help you with your situation.
As a personal injury attorney, I help people with their financial recovery in the event of an accident or negligent behavior. If injuries or negligence has led to death, the financial well-being of their surviving family members may be in question. Call me today and learn how I can help you explore avenues for financial recovery related to the untimely death of your loved ones.