Wrongful Death

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? A Quick Guide

Wrongful deaths can occur at any moment. A 2017 study finds that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in America. They cause more than 250,000 deaths a year.

When your loved one dies because of negligence or intentional injury, you should file for a wrongful death lawsuit. But you shouldn’t pick up the phone and call an attorney just yet. You need to answer some questions first.

What goes into a wrongful death lawsuit? When is a case applicable to a person who died? Who can press for damages?

Answer these questions to get the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. Here is your quick guide.

What Does a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Involve?

Each state has its own definition for wrongful death. Most regard a “wrongful death” as a death that occurs due to intentional actions that someone takes.

Wrongful death takes place in a civil setting. If a person is found guilty of the offense, they must pay monetary damages to the plaintiff. Prosecutors cannot use a civil conviction to build a criminal case against someone.

The burden of proof in a wrongful death suit is weaker than in a criminal case. The plaintiff must prove that the preponderance of evidence indicates guilt. As long as it is more probable than not that a defendant is guilty, the plaintiff will win their case.

Do your research on your local laws before determining if you can file for wrongful death. Visit this page that provides information and contact a wrongful death attorney if you have questions.

When Is a Wrongful Death Case Applicable?

A wrongful death lawyer will take a case under three circumstances. The first is for murder or manslaughter. A person can be acquitted of criminal murder and then get convicted of civil wrongful death.

The second is for medical malpractice. A doctor can misdiagnose a condition or botch a medical treatment, like a surgery.

The third circumstance is negligence. A driver could operate their car recklessly and then strike someone.

The plaintiff must prove that the death caused damages. This can include the pain and suffering that the person experienced before dying. This can also involve medical treatment and funeral costs.

Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?

All states allow immediate family members to file a lawsuit. This includes spouses and children. When a child dies, their parent can bring a lawsuit forward.

Some states permit siblings and grandparents to bring lawsuits, but only on rare occasions. A child under their grandparent’s care may die, which allows the grandparent to press for damages.

Some states allow unmarried partners to file. This is especially the case for partners who were financially dependent on the deceased person.

Friends and business associates cannot sue. Even if they can prove financial damages from the death, they do not receive legal coverage.

The Basics of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The law regulates the perimeters of the wrongful death lawsuit. It occurs in a civil court that is independent of a criminal one. Penalties involve a cash payout to the plaintiff.

A lawsuit is applicable when a person dies from an intentional injury. It also applies to malpractice or negligence cases.

Immediate family members can bring a lawsuit in any state. Some states allow siblings, grandparents, and unmarried partners to sue as well.

You can make the long arm of the law work for you. Follow our coverage for more legal guides.

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