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An overview and examples of wrongful death causes of action

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2019 | Wrongful Death |

A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed when a person dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or misconduct of another. The Defendant may be an individual or a business, depending on the circumstances. In this post, we will look at some specific examples where a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed. First, let’s discuss what types of damages may be awarded in such a case.

The largest portion of damages to be awarded in a wrongful death action are known as pecuniary, or financial. Pecuniary injuries are those that resulted directly from the decedent’s death. They include loss of support, medical and funeral expenses, other outstanding bills, loss of guidance if the survivor is a child, and even loss of a prospective inheritance. In addition to the actual costs of these injuries, a Plaintiff will also be granted interest from the date of the decedent’s death. There are multiple considerations that go into determining pecuniary loss. A jury will not only look at actual financial losses, but it will also be required to consider the age, character, and condition of the decedent at the time of passing. Occasionally an expert witness may be called to testify as to the financial value of a decedent to a family.

Some states also allow punitive damages. These are damages that are awarded to deter a Defendant or any other individual or business from acting negligently or maliciously in the future. These damages may be awarded in cases where the death was the direct result of seriously malicious and reckless actions of another. While each state has its own set of wrongful death statutes, there are universal elements that should be present in every case. These elements include the death of a person caused by negligent or malicious actions of another, survivors who are suffering financially as a result of said death, and the establishment of the decedent’s estate with appointment of a personal representative.

Situations where a wrongful death claim may be justified include instances of medical malpractice or medical negligence; automobile, plane, truck, motorcycle, boat, or train accidents; fatal work accidents caused by faulty equipment or exposure to toxic substances; or criminal behavior such as robbery or drunk driving. The facts of a particular case at hand can make all the difference, though, which is why surviving family members who believe that they have lost a loved one due to the negligence of another should consider discussing the matter with a qualified legal professional.