What Is a Wrongful Death Action? 4 Facts Explained

Legal Tips and Resources

When a loved one dies, it can be painful and affect your entire family. However, when that death was caused by negligence due to another’s actions, it can be especially difficult. Not only has that individual’s life been cut short, but he or she might also leave behind children and other dependents who need support, as well as funeral and medical expenses that can climb into the thousands of dollars. If you plan to sue someone for wrongful death, there are a few facts you may want to learn before you move ahead with your lawsuit.

1. Only Close Relatives May Sue 

A wrongful death case may have limitations pertaining to who can file suit against the negligent party. For example, if an elderly family member dies in a nursing facility because they were given the wrong medication, the children, spouse or siblings of that individual will likely be able to file suit. Close friends and distant relatives may not be permitted to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as they are not likely to be named estate representatives of the deceased.

2. Negligence May Be Intentional or Unintentional 

There are many different circumstances that may surround a wrongful death case, including whether the harm caused was intentional or not. For example, if your loved one slipped and fell on a wet grocery store floor that was not marked with a warning sign and died from a head injury, the store owners did not intend to cause harm but can still be held responsible. Wrongful deaths that were intentional, such as those connected with a murder, can still be actionable, even if the one accused is not convicted of the crime.

3. Past Negligence May Be Actionable 

While most states have their own statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death suit, you may be able to sue for past negligent actions that caused the eventual death of your loved one. One popular instance is retired industrial workers who developed mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer, as a result of working with asbestos. Many have died as a result, and their families have been able to sue the companies that were negligent in allowing employees to handle such a dangerous material.

Awards May Be Affected By Circumstance 

The amount of money you can sue for in a wrongful death lawsuit can be affected by the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s age, dependents and financial standing. For instance, if your young adult son was killed by a drunk driver and leaves behind a wife and small children, you may be able to sue for lost future wages and a loss of support as a result of his death.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be less stressful when you know the facts. Call a wrongful death attorney today for more information and advice about how to begin.