What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is typically brought by the surviving family members or loved ones of an individual who was killed as a result of someone’s negligent or reckless behavior. The wrongful death lawsuit is brought against the person, company or corporation that is responsible for the fatal accident. Financial damages such as lost wages and medical expenses and future benefits are all recoverable with a wrongful death lawsuit.
In the U.S., all 50 states have passed wrongful death statutes, and even though they are not exactly the same, there are similar elements to each states’ wrongful death statute. When filing a wrongful death lawsuit, family members must show: 1) the person or company being sued caused the wrongful death. 2) The company or person being sued was negligent or reckless in their conduct. 3) The victim’s beneficiaries are alive; this includes spouse, children, parents and siblings in some states. 4) The victim’s wrongful death has caused financial loss to the beneficiaries. If you believe you have a wrongful death claim, please contact a national wrongful death lawyer at the Trapani Wrongful Death Law Firm anytime for a free consultation.
Who Can Sue for Wrongful Death?
In the United States, each state has a different Wrongful Death Statute that outlines, “Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.” Every state in the US allows a wrongful death lawsuit to be filed by immediate family members. If the victim was married, the surviving spouse should bring the wrongful death lawsuit. Most states allow an adult child to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. A surviving minor child will need a court appointed representative to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Moreover, if the victim is a minor child, their parent has the right to bring the lawsuit. If the victim is a single adult with no children, most states will allow their siblings to bring the wrongful death lawsuit if the parents are not available.
The question of “who can sue for wrongful death” can be more complicated if the deceased had a will at the time of their death. If the victim died with a will, the presiding court will appoint an estate administrator or estate executor to administer the estate. The executor will be responsible for properly filing estate tax returns once the wrongful death lawsuit is resolved. A court appointed executor or administrator usually has the sole right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s estate, but there can be additional beneficiaries of the wrongful death estate. A wrongful death lawsuit analysis can be complicated; we suggest you call an experienced national wrongful death attorney for a free consultation.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death lawsuit can have Economic Damages, Non-economic Damages and Punitive Damages. Economic damages are the value of the financial earnings the deceased would have made including, the victim’s lost wages, over the course of his or her life including pension benefits and medical benefits. Economic damages also include medical expenses and funeral costs. Non-economic damages can include the loss of care, guidance, protection and loss of consortium. Some states allow financial compensation for a family member’s mental grief, pain and suffering. Additionally, the conscious pain and suffering before the victim passed away can have substantial economic value. Punitive damages can help bring a sense of wholeness to a family mourning due to corporation’s or big company’s negligent or reckless actions. Moreover, punitive damages serve a deterrent to future reckless or negligent action by similar companies across the nation.
Often, wrongful death damage evidence will benefit from the testimony and knowledge of an “expert witness.” In order to prove Economic Damages, the wrongful death lawyer will hire an expert witness such as an economist or actuary. At the wrongful death jury trial, the wrongful death lawyer is allowed to present expert testimony of the expert economist or actuary to establish the future economic and financial value of the victim to their family. Calculating damages in a wrongful death case can be very complex and should be left up to an experienced wrongful death attorney.
Average Wrongful Death Settlement
Average wrongful death settlement claim amounts will very a great deal. Sometimes liability is contested, which can lower the financial amount of a wrongful death settlement. While there are other times when a party or company is obviously liable for the negligent conduct which killed the victim. In this scenario the average wrongful death settlement will be much higher. Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit can begin with a settlement offer or out of court payout. The responsible party may try to keep down their costs of litigation, while avoiding admission of any negligent or reckless conduct on their behalf. Without the experience of an experienced wrongful death attorney, like the Trapani Law Firm, claimants may be intimidated into taking this original “lowball” offer.
The average wrongful death lawsuit settlement amount is based off a number of factors. In order to determine how much money one may receive, a national wrongful death attorney will access the following criteria: 1) the “lost wages” of the deceased over their lifetime, including pension payouts and medical benefits, 2) the age and health of the deceased at the time of their death, 3) whether the deceased was a parent and if so, the age of the children, 4) the loss of guidance, protection and consortium to the surviving family members, 5) whether any conscious pain and suffering took place before the victim died. In order to properly determine the average value of a wrongful death settlement, an experienced wrongful death attorney should evaluate any potential wrongful death claim.
How to Prove Wrongful Death
In order for the Plaintiff Estate to prove legal liability in a wrongful death lawsuit, they must prove the following three elements:
- Duty of Care – the Plaintiff Estate must prove to the jury that the Defendant individual or company owed a duty of care to the victim. For example, a business must provide a safe and secure business environment with no known dangerous hazards.
- Breach of Duty of Care – The Estate must then prove that the Defendant company or individual breached the duty of care they owed to the deceased. Again, in the situation involving a business premises, the business or company would be required to put up signage warning of dangerous hazards where someone could potentially injure himself or herself by falling or drowning.
- Causation – The Plaintiff must show that a Defendant’s particular action directly caused Plaintiff’s wrongful death. It is not enough to show that the Defendant company broke the law or acted in a reckless manner, but there must be a direct causal relationship between the reckless acts, resulting in the wrongful death.
How to Find a Wrongful Death Attorney
Hiring a wrongful death lawyer with an excellent reputation in the community is vital when trying to find a wrongful death lawyer. You’ll want to find a lawyer that is dedicated to working on the specific area of law relevant to your case. Attorney Trapani has devoted his career to helping the families who have lost loved ones in fatal accidents. We suggest you review each potential wrongful death lawyers website to see which types of cases he or she litigates most. Next, search for your wrongful death attorney on Google. Are you satisfied with the potential wrongful death attorney’s online reviews?
We also recommend that you evaluate how engaged the wrongful death lawyer seems on the phone. Do you speak with a wrongful death attorney or a paralegal or secretary when you call the law firm? Is the lawyer willing to meet you at your house in the next day or two? Do they offer their cell phone and/or email address for future communication or will you have to be routed through a secretary for each call. Additionally, what is the wrongful death law firm’s reputation and character in the community? Do they have outstanding online reviews? Be sure to read many of the law firm online reviews, including all negative reviews, to gauge a wrongful death lawyer’s reputation, character and credibility.
National Wrongful Death Attorney
The national wrongful death lawyers at the Trapani Law Firm offer free consultations to families across the United States. We are here to help grieving family members get back on their feet. Our national wrongful death law firm has secured multi-million dollar recoveries for our clients. We understand the varying laws that govern wrongful death lawsuits state by state and we will work with local counsel to ensure just financial compensation for you and your loved ones. Our national wrongful death attorneys have built an extensive network of experts across the nation that focuses their practice on wrongful death lawsuits. We’re here to help families nationwide. Call our national wrongful death law firm today for a free consultation.