Four Things You Need To Know Before You File A Wrongful Death Claim
If someone you love has been killed due to the wrong or negligent behavior of another person or a company, nothing you can do in court is going to bring that person back to life. However, you can possibly get money to pay for the medical bills they've left behind and/or money to help the person's family thrive even though the person you love isn't around to care for them. That's what a wrongful death claim is all about.
What is a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death law suit can result from a deliberate act, such as murder. OJ Simpson is a well-known example of this type of case. Wrongful death can also be claimed when someone or a company doesn't do something they should and that negligence results in a person's death. An example of this would be a company that rents cars or construction equipment, but isn't keeping up with the required maintenance. If that oversight results in a person's death, a court could decide that it's wrongful death. Medical malpractice and vehicle fatalities can also be considered wrongful death.
Things to know about wrongful death lawsuits
1. Not just anyone can file such a suit. Every state differs somewhat, but in most cases, you have to have a legal relationship with the deceased in order to file a wrongful death claim. This may be the executor of the estate (on behalf of the heirs), a spouse, a child or a parent of a minor child.
2. Wrongful death is a civil, not a criminal action. Unlike a murder charge, which can result in a person going to prison, a wrongful death claim is a civil action. This means that you can seek a monetary settlement from the defendant, but there will be no criminal penalties.
3. The standard of proof is less stringent for wrongful death than for manslaughter. With the criminal charge of manslaughter, a person must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a unanimous jury. In a wrongful death suit, only a majority verdict is required.
4. There is a statute of limitations with wrongful death. Unlike a murder charge, which has no statute of limitations, there is a set period of time following a person's death in which you are able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit varies by state.
For more information, contact a wrongful death attorney in your area.