Wrongful Death Suit for Kimura London and White LLP
09.19.2022 | Personal Injury
What is a Wrongful Death Suit and Who Can File One?
If you have lost a family member because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is intended to compensate victims of loss for the damages resulting from the death of a loved one.
In the following post, we will explain the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit. We will also examine questions about who can file a wrongful death suit and when.
Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death suit is a civil claim against a defendant who is responsible for causing another person’s death. Typically, wrongful death suits involve deaths that are the result of negligent actions. Less frequently, they involve intentional wrongful actions that prove to be fatal.
Wrongful death lawsuits are intended to allow the estate or family of the deceased victim to seek financial recovery. The specific laws and regulations surrounding wrongful death suits vary by state.
Usually, wrongful death claims are filed by a legal representative of the deceased victim’s estate on behalf of the surviving family members.
When is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Applicable?
Sadly, there are a wide range of circumstances that can lead to a victim’s death. Wrongful death suits are appropriate in cases in which the victim could have filed a personal injury claim if they had survived. Because of this, personal injury attorneys often handle wrongful death cases.
Applicable circumstances include:
Death as the Result of Intentional Action
When someone intentionally causes the death of another person, they may be vulnerable to criminal charges or prosecution. However, these individuals are also vulnerable to civil wrongful death suits.
Even in cases in which the victim has been killed as the result of an intentional action, the family deserves financial compensation for their losses. This is true regardless of related criminal proceedings.
Death as the Result of Medical Malpractice
When a physician or surgeon makes a careless mistake that leads to the death of a patient, they may be vulnerable to legal action. Wrongful death suits can be filed against negligent medical practitioners.
Situations that qualify as medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose a serious medical condition
- Failure to advise the patient of risks of medications or procedures
- Unreasonable mistakes or carelessness during surgery
- Reckless behavior
Not every patient’s death is due to medical malpractice. Doctors are human and make mistakes like everyone else. But when a patient dies because of careless or reckless behavior, the family of the deceased person may file a wrongful death claim.
Death as the Result of Negligent Driving
Traffic collisions are one of the most common causes of accident-related deaths. When a person has been killed because of another motorist’s negligent driving, their family can file a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death suits are applicable in most cases where a personal injury lawsuit would apply if the victim were alive. When a personal injury victim passes away because of their accident, their surviving family members have the option to file a wrongful death suit.
One notable exception to this rule is a death that results from work-related injuries. When an employee is killed in an on-the-job accident, the claim must be dealt with through a workers’ compensation claim.
Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Suit?
Wrongful death suits are typically filed by a representative of the deceased person’s estate. The person filing the lawsuit must have a meaningful relationship to the deceased. The list of potential claimants varies by state, but there are some commonalities.
No matter which state they are in, a legal spouse is permitted to file a wrongful death suit on behalf of their deceased partner. In some states, including California, the deceased person’s domestic partner can file a wrongful death suit. Legal marriage is not a requirement.
Other parties who are allowed to file a wrongful death suit in California include:
- The surviving children of the victim
- The putative spouse of the victim or that person’s children
- The parents of the victim
- The stepchildren of the victim
- Anyone who would be entitled to the victim’s property, including parents and siblings
In some of these instances, the claimant will need to show that they were financially dependent on the deceased person.
If someone you love has suffered a fatal injury because of another person’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. No amount of money can bring your loved one back. However, you should not have to face the financial burdens of their passing on your own.
Let Our Personal Injury Attorney Take It From Here
We are here to handle all of the paperwork and legal details of your personal injury claim so you can focus on recovering from your injury. To arrange a free initial consultation with the chair of our Personal Injury Department, Joshua M. Kimura, please contact our law offices today.
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