If there is one thing that none of us ever want to face it is the death of a loved one, which makes it even more traumatic and painful when you discover that they have been the victim of a wrongful death.
Here is a look at what the term wrong death actually means, an overview of ways to establish blame and who might have immunity from being sued, plus details of how insurance coverage affects a claim.
Despite such difficult circumstances
It is only natural to experience shock and grief at the loss of a loved one but if you know or believe that they needn’t have died when they did, you will no doubt want to take some action to set the record straight.
In basic terms, a wrongful death gives rise to a claim when you can establish that someone was legally at fault for the death of your loved one. It is a fine line that depends on the individual circumstances on whether you should seek guidance from a criminal attorney or as specialist wrongful death attorney. This criminal defense attorney also specializes in wrongful death claims, and is therefore a good place to start.
If someone is killed due to the wrongful conduct of a person or persons this can give rise to the relatives of the deceased to file a wrongful death action against those responsible. Some circumstances are more straightforward than others when you are looking to establish liability and one of the first points to establish is whether the act that caused death was intentional or negligent.
As you would expect, this sort of action can be complicated and there may be plenty of challenges along the way, which is why it is suggested that you get some professional legal help to guide you through the process of getting justice for your loved one and the compensation that you are entitled to.
Not everyone can be sued
You will need to be aware that certain persons or agencies might actually enjoy a level of immunity from a wrongful death lawsuit.
The list of agencies and specific people who are entitled to immunity will vary according to the state you live in. One example where immunity from wrongful death would likely apply would be when federal laws do not permit a claim from defendants involved in railroad collisions.
Considering that wrongful death claims can arise from a whole host of different scenarios from car accidents to highly complex medical malpractice, you can quickly understand that there are guidelines relating to establishing fault but you will almost certainly need professional guidance to make a successful claim and get the right level of compensation.
On behalf of a loved one
There are also clear rules as to who is entitled to sue for wrongful death.
A wrongful death claim has to be filed by a recognized representative on behalf of the survivors and this appointed person or persons are referred to as the “real parties in interest”.
If you are unsure who might be included in this list, the sort of people included is fairly extensive, from immediate family members, life partners, even distant family members in some states.
You might also find that certain states will allow any person who suffers a financial loss from the death to bring a wrongful death action and the list may even extend to the parents of a deceased fetus.
If you are unsure in any way or want to know who would be the best person to come forward as your representative if it is a family matter, it would be best to find out from a lawyer who has experience of wrongful death claims.
The importance of insurance coverage
When you are assessing the viability of suing for wrongful death or liability has been accepted and you are looking to agree on a settlement figure you need to be realistic in what amount of compensation you might be able to receive.
The amount of insurance coverage available to resolve a wrongful death claim will ultimately heavily influence how much money you are going to get if the case is settled in your favor.
This information is highly relevant as if you become aware that the defendant only has $100,000 coverage, for example, you might ultimately be wasting your time trying to get a judgment for a larger sum of money, especially if they don’t have any assets to cover the potential shortfall.
If you do decide that you want to claim a larger amount than their insurance coverage, you will need to be prepared to go after that person’s personal assets, which might even require making them bankrupt.
Knowing the limit of the potential cash available through the level of their insurance coverage is a vital piece of information and going for anything beyond that has risks attached.
If you are going to be seeking compensation for a wrongful death it makes sense to know the basics of how to go about successfully putting the record straight, even if it sadly won’t bring your loved one back.
Zara Burton works for a busy law firm and, when time allows, enjoys sharing some insights online through her articles. Outside of work she enjoys playing tennis and reading the latest crime novels!