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Understanding wrongful death claims

When a person passes away, it can be a difficult time for the loved ones left behind. When the death is caused by someone else’s intentional or negligent behavior, it is referred to as a wrongful death.

Wrongful deaths can be caused by motor vehicle accidents, leaving family members who relied on the deceased person for financial support and other contributions wondering what to do next. A wrongful death lawsuit can help the deceased person’s loved ones recover monetary compensation for their loss.

Elements

There are several elements that must be proven in a wrongful death case in order for it to be successful.

There must have been a death of a human being that was caused by another person’s negligence or intent to cause harm, there must be surviving family members who are suffering monetary injury as a result of the death and there must be a personal representative appointed to manage the deceased person’s estate.

The personal representative is the only person who can bring the wrongful death lawsuit.

Damages

Financial injury is the main way damages are measured in a wrongful death lawsuit. This includes loss of support, medical expenses, funeral expenses and loss of consortium. Loss of consortium refers to the loss of companionship and loss of the benefits of a family relationship.

In deciding the financial loss, the court may consider the age, character and condition of the deceased person, including his or her earning capacity, life expectancy and other factors. Punitive damages may also be available in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing.

If a loved one’s death was caused by a motor vehicle accident, an experienced attorney can pursue compensation.