A wrongful death case arises when a person dies from someone else’s negligent act. Wrongful deaths may occur during slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, car accidents, product liability and other accidents. Because the victim can no longer advocate for him or herself, another party may step in and file a lawsuit against the negligent person.
Who May File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In the majority of states, spouses, domestic partners and next of kin (parents, siblings, or surviving progeny) can bring a wrongful death suit. An unmarried partner of the victim is allowed to file the claim and collect damages.
Wills and Estate Plans Involving Domestic Partnerships
If the wrongful death victim had a will, the damages recovered in the lawsuit are normally paid to the estate and given to the survivors. Spouses, domestic partners and underage children may receive part of the settlement. Most states disperse the funds like this:
- The entire estate is awarded to the spouse or domestic partner if the deceased has no surviving parents or kids.
- Two-thirds of the settlement are given to the spouse or domestic partner if there are children belonging to both the partner and the deceased.
- Half of the settlement is given to the spouse or partner if the children aren’t his or her’s biologically.
- Three quarters of the settlement are given to the spouse or partner if there are no children, but the deceased has at least one parent alive.
Determination of Damages
The jury or judge determines the damages in wrongful death cases. Damages may be used to cover medical bills, funeral and burial expenses and lost, present and future wages and benefits.
It’s possible to collect other contributions the deceased may have likely made if still alive, like financial assistance and companionship.
There are some states that don’t have a limit on the amount of monetary damages a domestic partner or other surviving family member can recover from the lawsuit. However, damages aren’t awarded for grief, mental distress or loss of consortium.
Limitation Statute on Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
The majority of states give you two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Once that deadline has passed, you are no longer able to pursue compensation.
If your loved one was killed because of another person’s negligence, you should talk to an attorney, like a wrongful death lawyer Fort Lauderdale FL can count on. While nothing can make up for the death of your loved one, a personal injury lawyer can help you file a lawsuit against the negligent party.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Needle & Ellenberg, P.A. for their insight into wrongful death cases.