Wrongful Death Suits 101
If you watch courtroom drama television shows and movies, you’ve probably heard the term wrongful death suit tossed around quite a bit. In reality, what is a wrongful death suit? What are all the particulars associated with the term? This article will give you a 101 lesson on wrongful death suits and the important factors involved in them.
A wrongful death suit occurs when someone files a civil court case against a person, persons, or entity (ex. a company) for misconduct that lead to the death of someone else. The misconduct committed may have been intentional or unintentional. For example, if John is driving under the influence of alcohol and hits and kills Brad, Brad’s wife may file a wrongful death suit against John because his drunk driving lead to the death of her husband.
When it comes to wrongful death suits, one very important thing to remember is that the laws vary from state to state. Who is permitted file a suit, the amount of damages that may be awarded, and the statute of limitations are a few factors on which states may differ. However, in general, the next of kin or a beneficiary may file a wrongful death suit. In addition, a person typically has two years from the time of death to file a suit.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a wrongful death suit is a civil matter. It is completely separate from any criminal charges that have been or will be filed. This means, referring back to the previous example, that if John is found liable in the wrongful death suit filed by Brad’s wife, it does not mean that he will necessarily be found guilty of any criminal charges related to Brad’s death (such as reckless driving, felony drunk driving, or even murder).
When a wrongful death suit is filed, there are three types of damages that may be available depending on the specifics of the case and the state. The three types of damages are:
Economic – Economic damages are for things we can try to calculate, such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and monetary losses due to the death.
Non-economic – Non-economic damages are for things that are difficult to quantify, such as the loss of care, comfort, support, guidance, and similar losses due to the death of the individual.
Punitive – Calculating and proving damages in wrongful death claims requires persistence and know-how in gathering financial records, correspondence, and other evidence of the relationships and finances involved in the losses. Having the guiding counsel of experienced attorneys is extremely important in lessening the burden and obtaining full recovery for those suffering such devastating losses.