WRONGFUL DEATH FAQS
What is the definition of “wrongful death”?
The term is used when someone causes the death of another person either through their actions or their failure to act.
What is the goal of a wrongful death suit?
The goal of a wrongful death suit is to compensate family members who suffer emotionally or financially as a result of the death.
What are the elements of a wrongful death case?
In order to hold a defendant accountable, we must prove that death would not have occurred without the defendant’s action or failure to act. It is important to note that the time between the defendant’s negligent or careless acts and the death is not a factor as long as we can
prove that their conduct or negligence was the cause of death. Along with proving that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of death, we must also show that monetary damages resulted from the act. If these criteria are met, a wrongful death suit can be filed.
Who is allowed to bring a wrongful death claim?
Claims can be brought by an Administrator/Administratrix and/or Executor/Executrix of the deceased’s estate on behalf of the heirs and next of kin. By definition heirs include the spouse, children, mother, and father of the deceased. Next of kin is a more general term and a test has been developed to determine who falls under that category.
How long do I have to bring a wrongful death claim?
What type of damages may be awarded in a wrongful death case?
Wrongful death suits seek damages to compensate family members for a variety of losses. The most obvious damage awards are related to the actual cost of the victim’s medical care and burial. These damages are relatively easy to determine.
Less obvious but equally important are those related to the loss of future earnings and benefits, loss of companionship, and, when appropriate, punitive damages. In order to determine damages for loss of future earnings and benefits the victim’s potential lifespan and resultant lifetime earnings must be calculated. Compensation for loss of companionship is based on the emotional pain and suffering experienced by survivors. Damages are based solely on subjective criteria including an assessment of the victim’s relationship with each member of the family.
Punitive damages may be assessed in order to punish the person responsible for the wrongful death rather than to compensate for a specific loss. These damages are rarely awarded and are only granted if it can be proved that the defendant was intentional or grossly negligent.
Finally, additional damages may also be awarded if the victim endured conscious pain and suffering before death. These damages are separate and distinct from the wrongful death damages discussed in the previous paragraphs and any compensation for pain and suffering becomes part of the victim’s estate.
How long should I wait before I obtain an attorney to investigate if a loved one has suffered a wrongful death?
Family members should contact Anzellotti, Sperling, Pazol & Small as quickly as possible after the death of a loved one for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. Time is of the essence because the statute of limitations in these complicated cases is relatively short and because it is extremely important to preserve all pertinent evidence. Taking immediate action will enable us to file the strongest possible claim on your behalf.