Life can change in a moment when a loved one dies in an unexpected mishap. You feel emotionally broken and financially wrecked. The pain and suffering are compounded if the death was preventable. The first thing you want to do is seek justice and ensure punishment for the person whose negligence led to the loss. Thankfully, you can do both by claiming the wrongful death of your loved one.
Wrongful death claims are quite similar to personal injury claims. But they can be a tad trickier because the victims cannot approach the court themselves. However, the good thing is that the surviving family members can seek compensation for their suffering and losses. Before doing so, you must know some facts to ensure your claim is on track. Let us share them with you.
You should be legally eligible to claim for a wrongful death
Not every relative can claim compensatory damages for the wrongful death of a loved one. They are reserved only for specific family members. Although the rules may vary from state to state, the following people are typically allowed to file a lawsuit for a wrongful death suit-
- Parent if the victim was a minor (or the victim is an adult and has no spouse)
- Any surviving children
The siblings and nephews and nieces of the deceased party may file a claim when if are no survivors in the victim’s direct line of descent. At times, other relatives of the deceased can file a claim, provided they can establish financial dependence on the victim. For example, you can seek compensation for the death of a stepparent if you depended on them for financial support. Everything boils down to the individual circumstances and the law in your state.
You must bring up a claim within a specified period
While you can seek justice for a loved one who died due to someone else’s negligence, remember to do it within the stipulated period. Essentially, you must follow the statute of limitations and start a lawsuit within two years from the date of the demise of the person. If someone dies on the spot, you have to start the process within two years from the day of the accident.
But the period begins from the date of death if the victim suffered survived and sustained medical complications for months after the mishap. However, a personal injury attorney can guide you about exceptions to the statute of limitations under the discovery rule. It enables the survivors of the victim to initiate a wrongful death claim within two years of finding out about the negligent loss of their relative.
You must have evidence to prove wrongful death
The burden of proof in these suits lies on the plaintiff, so be ready with robust evidence and arguments. You will have to cover the following elements to have a valid claim for compensation for the death of a loved one.
- The victim is dead
- They died due to someone’s negligence or malicious intent
- The survivors suffered financial or other losses
- A personal representative has been appointed to the victim’s estate
You must ensure a fair value of compensation
The loss of a loved one is draining, and it is hard to measure it in terms of money. But you must ensure a fair value of compensation, just as in personal injury cases. Damages can have economic and non-economic components. Economic damages include the financial support your loved one would have provided had they been alive and the loss of certain benefits you would have received from them. It also includes the reasonable financial value of household services they would have given.
Additionally, you can claim the costs of their funeral, burial, or cremation. The non-economic damages for wrongful death include loss of companionship, affection, protection, guidance, and moral support. The spouse of the victim can seek damages for the loss of intimate relations. Your attorney can help you calculate a fair value and pursue it.
A wrongful death claim for a loved one gets you more than the financial compensation for the loss of a loved one. It serves justice for them by ensuring that the person responsible for their death and suffering has to pay. As a family member, you get peace of mind and closure for the immense loss. You must pursue a claim for the wrongful death of a loved one for regaining control of your life. Consider it a way to get a fresh start emotionally and financially.