What is Wrongful Death?
Like most laws, wrongful death differs from state to state, but there are some general rules that apply in most situations. Generally, a wrongful death action is brought to recover financially from someone’s death. For this reason, the death had to have caused financial harm to the person suing. Additionally, the death had to have been either negligently caused or there must have been an intent to cause harm to the deceased. Negligence requires a duty to the deceased that was breached and caused his or her death. Because wrongful death is easier to prove than criminal wrongdoing, a wrongful death suit is often a solution to compensate a family when the criminal system fails to convict.
Who can sue in wrongful death?
Generally, there has to have been a financial loss – including funeral and similar expenses – to the person suing. This can also include the deceased’s lost wages or services to the family. For example, the loss of the services of a homemaker is considered a significant financial loss. Check out our other pages on work injuries and workers compensation as well.
As for specifics, parents can sue for the wrongful death of a child and children for the wrongful death of a parent. If the child is underage, a suit can be brought on behalf of the child. Spouses can also bring suit, and sometimes other long-term partners can as well.
Gay relationships are a currently developing area of law in many areas, including wrongful death. States that allow gay marriage will allow wrongful death claims by the surviving spouse. Other states may have a less clear law, or they may disallow recovery. In the latter instance, the state may be ready for a legal challenge to the law disallowing recovery.
In some states, more distant relatives, parents of a fetus, or anyone with a financial loss can bring a suit. This could include, for example, an employer who loses the services of the deceased, as there may be significant costs to that employer resulting from the loss of labor and the need to hire a new employee.
Who can be sued for wrongful death?
In short, you can sue the person who breached a duty or intentionally caused harm to the deceased. Also, note that government organizations or employees acting within the scope of the job are sometimes “immune” from lawsuits. This varies greatly by situation, however, so if you’re wondering if a particular government employee or entity can be sued, it’s best to consult an attorney.
If your family member or loved one has passed away, you have our deepest sympathies. Legal action is probably the last thing you want to think about, but time is of the essence in legal cases. If you believe someone else should be held legally responsible, we encourage you to contact us as soon as possible for a consultation.
You can submit a simple, free and confidential legal consultation to find out more about how Cade Parian can help you today with your legal claims.
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