Death is the ultimate and unavoidable reality. But what if the death is not natural but caused by someone else’s fault? In such cases, the survivors have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits are meant to recover damages caused by the victim’s death. These damages include pain and suffering, lost wages of the victim, lost love, care and companionship, medical expenses for the victim’s treatment before his/her death and even funeral expenses.
An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim involves a person’s death due to someone else’s fault. The right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the suspected wrongdoer for wrongful death is fairly a new concept. “Common Laws” (Laws imported to America from England) did not have any provision for such a lawsuit. During the last century, both federal and state courts created the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Every state in America has now its own set of rules for wrongful death claims.
Wrongful death claims can emanate from any kind of accidents ranging from simple ‘hit and run’ to complex product liability or medical malpractice cases. Any person or entity (government or private agencies) can be held legally liable for negligent or intentional action that caused death to someone.
Who Has Legal Right to Sue for Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death claim can be filed by someone representing the victim’s surviving family members who had to bear the brunt of the victim’s wrongful demise (These people are also referred to as “real parties in interest”).
The representative, who actually brings the wrongful death lawsuit, functions like an executor of the victim’s estate. Not all states have the same parameters to recognize the “real parties in interest”. Some of these people are:
- Immediate family members such as, spouses and children (adopted children also included)
- Parents of unmarried or minor children
- Parents of a deceased fetus
- Live-in partners and “putative spouses”
- Financial dependents
- Distant family members that include brothers, sisters and even grandparents
Some states allow anyone, whoever used to depend financially on the deceased, even if he or she has no relationship (blood or marriage) with the deceased, to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Who May Be Legally Liable for a Wrongful Death?
A wide variety of persons, business entities, government agencies and workers may be sued for wrongful death claims. Let us clarify it with a suitable example. If a car accident takes place on a damaged roadway and involves a drunk driver, a wrongful death claim may be brought against:
- The driver
- The person or company that employed the driver
- The builder who was in charge of constructing the roadway, on which the accident happened
- The government agent for his/her failure to issue proper warning about the road hazard.
- The manufacturer of the vehicle
- The person who served or sold alcohol to the driver
- The owner of the bar, restaurant or any other premise where the alcohol was sold or served.
There are many Miami Wrongful Death Attorneys fighting for their clients’ behalf in wrongful death claims. Make sure to work with the BEST in CLASS to enhance the chance of your claim.