The Elements of A Wrongful Death Claim
Just like any lawsuit, a wrongful death claim requires you to prove certain elements occurred. In general, wrongful death is a claim that allows the victim’s surviving family to recover financial damages. If your loved one died as a result of someone’s wrongful, negligent act, you are eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.
Here’s everything you need to know about the elements of a wrongful death claim.
Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death?
Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. As it is meant to compensate the surviving family, there is a specific order of who can sue the at-fault party, starting with the most immediate members who survived the deceased:
- Spouse or children of the victim
- The victim’s parents
- The victim’s heirs
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Elements of a lawsuit are the specific facts surrounding a case. For a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove several things occurred, including:
- Your loved one died as a result of someone’s wrongful, reckless, or negligent actions.
- You are the immediate family (spouse, children, parents, etc.) that survived them.
- You sustained a monetary loss from the death of your loved one.
- You must file the action within two years if it was caused by a governmental party or three years if they are non-governmental.
How to Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Case
Surviving family members can recover damages for several types of expenses and losses, such as:
- Lost income: this includes the wages the victim would have earned in their job
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Punitive damages: this acts as a punishment to the at-fault party if their actions were reckless or intentional.
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of care and companionship
Is Wrongful Death the Same As a Survival Claim?
In short, no. A survivorship claim is a separate action filed by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. This claim is meant to compensate for the medical expenses and pain and suffering the victim endured before they passed. Survivorship claims are only eligible if the deceased survived for a period of time between the incident and their death. It is also different from wrongful death because the compensation goes to the deceased’s estate, not surviving family members.
Proving all the elements of wrongful death can be difficult to accomplish on your own. A wrongful death attorney will gather the facts and evidence surrounding your case and create a strong argument on your behalf. After losing a loved one, you deserve compensation that matches the loss you have endured.