When a person or entity is considered responsible for someone’s death, a wrongful death claim can be brought against them. The death could have resulted from an intentional action or because of negligence. A Sebring wrongful death lawyer knows how to help individuals close to the deceased or the deceased’s estate and file a lawsuit against those legally responsible for the death of their loved one.
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Wrongful Death Claim
There are some situations where filing a wrongful death claim is common:
- Intentionally Killed – When someone is murdered, the surviving family members can sue in civil court for a wrongful death. These cases are separate from a criminal case involving the same defendant.
- Medical Malpractice – This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to diagnose a patient’s condition, or if a healthcare provider is careless when providing care. A wrongful death action can be taken against the healthcare provider or even a hospital.
- Vehicle Accidents – The fatalities in this situation often involve negligence. Should an individual be killed as a result of a vehicle accident or injuries received from the accident, it is possible that filing a wrongful death claim is appropriate.
Burden of Proof
In order for a defendant to be found liable in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiffs are required to meet the same burden of proof as the victim, should they have survived. They will be required to establish the defendant owed a duty of care. It will have to be shown how the defendant breached that duty. They must prove that breach of this duty is the direct cause of the victim’s death. It will also need to be proven how a victim’s death caused the plaintiff’s damages.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
It is common for a wrongful death claim to be filed by a representative from the deceased’s estate such as a wrongful death lawyer. This will be done for those who have an established relationship with the victim. Who qualifies as a survivor is determined by individual state law. In every state, a spouse can bring a wrongful death action on behalf of their deceased spouse. If a child is killed, their parents can bring a wrongful death action. A child can file a wrongful death action if one or both of their parents are killed. The more distant the familial relationship between someone and the deceased, the more difficult it is to have enough standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
There are two general types of damages a plaintiff will have in a wrongful death lawsuit. They are economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages are compensation for monetary losses experienced as a result of the deceased’s death. This could involve medical care, loss of income, funeral expenses, and more. They are easy to calculate. Non-economic damages are losses that are non-monetary and more difficult to determine a dollar amount for. These could be such things as loss of consortium, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering, and more.
Once a lawyer has filed a claim against the defendant, it could be followed by a court motion. This is also a time when negotiations will take place. The defendant will try and settle this case for as little as possible. The plaintiff’s attorney will work hard to obtain a fair settlement for their client. If these negotiations fail to produce a settlement, the lawsuit will then go to trial.
A plaintiff can choose to have their case heard by a jury or a judge. When a judge hears a case, it is called a bench trial. During this time, both sides will provide their evidence, witnesses, and experts to prove their case. When it is over, either a jury or a judge will determine the results of the trial.
A wrongful death claim is a special type of lawsuit. It involves the death of an individual because of the actions or inaction of another. With any death, there are those whose lives will be permanently changed. A lawyer has the knowledge and experience to properly evaluate a case. They will know how to obtain fair compensation for their clients during a very difficult time.