An Overview of Wrongful Death

You might be able to bring a wrongful death against the defendant if he or she engaged in behavior that killed one of your loved ones. Remember that it will probably go to trial since most wrongful death cases do.

The defendant may be responsible for wrongful death and still may not be convicted of that crime. A good example of that was witnessed in the O.J. Simpson trial. The former football star was not convicted in the 1994 trial since the prosecution couldn’t establish evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty.

The plaintiffs’ families could hold him guilty of two wrongful death charges since they could provide a preponderance of the evidence that he was responsible.

Most states allow the person representing the dead person’s estate to bring about a wrongful death suit. Every state has at least one statute that dictates how the representative can bring a wrongful death suit. The representative must also bring any actions for pain and suffering, personal injury, and other grievances that the deceased person suffered from before dying before the courts. If the deceased person wins any awards from damages, these belong to his or her estate and may be apportioned to different parties as his or her will dictates.

Elements of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A wrongful death suit must contain the following elements for it to go to court successfully:

• Someone (a human being) must have died
• Another person who meant to cause harm must have caused the death.
• The surviving family members must suffer from injuries because of the death.
• There must be a personal representative appointed to oversee the estate.

There are many ways that a wrongful death lawsuit can occur, including:

• The person dying because of medical malpractice
• A car or plane accident
• Exposure to poisonous or controlled substances while working
• Criminal behavior
• Dying during a supervised activity.

Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit tend to be pecuniary or measured by financial injuries. The courts define pecuniary injuries as the loss of support, the loss of services, losing an inheritance, and funeral and medical expenses. Most laws require the settlement to be fair and compensate the living for injuries that resulted from the death.

Adjustments in the Jury’s Award

The jury will hear the evidence and decide if the living should receive an award and how big that should be. The courts, of course, always have the final word. The family’s award may be reduced if the deceased wasn’t good with money or if he or she was young and not earning much even though the person had a high future earnings capacity. The family can still get an award if the deceased was not working at the time of death. In that case, the judge may set aside an award and then ask for a new trial.

Survival Actions for Personal Injury

You may receive an award for personal injury to the deceased if you’re a surviving family member. Just note that the jury may ask your injury lawyer in Lindsay questions regarding the following to determine how big that part of the settlement should be:

• The degree of consciousness
• Severity of pain
• The apprehension of impending death and the severity of pain.