Wrongful Death FAQs

Here are some wrongful death law FAQs that our team of wrongful death law attorneys often receive from clients:

Can I file a wrongful death claim if the negligent party is also being prosecuted by the state?

Yes. A wrongful death claim is a civil claim brought on behalf of the family of the decedent. If the wrongful death occurred as the result of a crime committed by the negligent party then the state can decide to prosecute him or her criminally. Even if a criminal case is brought by the state, a civil case may also be brought on behalf of the family.

If the negligent party is found innocent in a criminal case, can I still recover damages for wrongful death?

Yes. The burden of proof, or what needs to be proved in a criminal case, is much higher and more strict than that necessary in a civil, or wrongful death, case. A good example of this is the well-known case of O.J. Simpson. Although he was found not guilty in criminal court, he was held civilly responsible in a wrongful death case for the same event.

May I bring a wrongful death suit if the decedent did not have a job?

Yes. Even if the decedent was not employed at the time of the death, he or she may have contributed in a number of other ways. For example, if the decedent was a stay-at-home mom, she contributed services, guidance and nurturing of the family and these contributions are considered in a wrongful death case. In addition, survivors are often entitled to changes for their pain and suffering as a result of the death.

What is wrongful death law?

Wrongful death laws recognize that when someone dies as a result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct, the victim is not the only one affected. These laws protect the victim’s family members by holding the negligent person responsible and providing compensation for the victim’s survivors.

What needs to be proven in a wrongful death claim?

In order to be successful and receive damages in a wrongful death claim, there are certain elements that must be shown. Those are:

  • The death was caused by the defendant
  • The defendant was negligent, or liable for the death
  • There is a surviving spouse, children or other beneficiary
  • Monetary losses were incurred because of the death

Although these elements seem straightforward, it is important to consult an attorney because even though it may not seem as though you are entitled under these elements, an attorney has the knowledge and experience necessary to interpret what cases qualify for a wrongful death claim.

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