A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal claim you can bring when someone you love dies because of another person’s negligence or intentional act.
A common reason for filing a wrongful death lawsuit might be if your loved one dies in a car accident, and that accident was another person’s fault.
Wrongful death lawsuits are technically filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased person, and the specific laws guiding them vary depending on the state. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of surviving family members who the death affected.
A wrongful death claim can arise after a situation where a victim might have otherwise had a personal injury claim, but they passed away.
There’s a distinction to be made here as well.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a way for survivors to recover compensation for certain losses. There’s also in some states survival action, where a family can file a lawsuit for the damages a deceased person would have been able to recover if they’d survived.
These are emotionally charged situations, and the following are considerations and pros and cons to keep in mind about a wrongful death suit.
The biggest benefit of filing a wrongful death lawsuit is that as a survivor you may be able to recover compensation that will allow you to pay your bills and also cover the costs associated with the death of your loved one, such as unpaid hospital bills.
You may have funeral costs, and you can also receive compensation for the lost income that you suffer because your loved one died if you were financially dependent on that person.
There are other losses that you can receive compensation for as well, including those that relate to your emotional losses.
If you have children, reaching a settlement or receiving a judgment in one of these cases can be especially important.
You might also be able to create a legacy for your loved one with the compensation, such as making a charitable donation to a cause they cared about or setting up a scholarship fund.
Everything that comes with a wrongful death lawsuit is going to be emotionally-charged, but for a lot of families filing these lawsuits and then ultimately settling them gives them a sense of closure.
While there might not be criminal penalties involved in a situation that caused your loved one to die, at least with a wrongful death lawsuit, you can feel like something is being done to bring justice. This can help you have a sense of finality and close out this difficult chapter of your life.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits Can Bring About Positive Changes for Other People
In some cases, after a wrongful death lawsuit is filed and if it’s settled or there’s a judgment, it can lead to changes that help other people. For example, it could mean a dangerous product is taken off the market or a new law is enacted to help prevent other families from having to go through what yours did.
In cases related to medical malpractice, these lawsuits have triggered significant reform.
What Are the Downsides of Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When you file a wrongful death lawsuit, you’re faced with the fact that it’s not going to bring your loved one back.
It can also feel like you’re reliving the traumatic event, and the process can trigger many feelings for you that you’d like to move past.
You might also feel like somehow you’re putting a dollar amount on the value of your loved one’s life, which of course, isn’t the case.
Some people do worry that others will judge them negatively for filing a wrongful death suit.
The thing to realize is that if your loved one dies because of someone else’s actions, you are filing a lawsuit to seek justice and also to protect yourself financially and to protect your children.
If you’re worried that a lawsuit will bring up memories that are hard for you or will force you to keep relieving the situation and the specifics surrounding it, a personal injury attorney can shield you from most of this. They will gather the evidence, deal with insurance companies and do the work, and keep you updated as much or as little as you prefer. It’s such a hard decision for so many families, but again, a wrongful death lawsuit can be an important part of dealing with the financial fallout of your loved one’s death and giving yourself closure.